The smoke is on...we're over the crowd..flying at almost the speed of sound....Solos, ready, HIT IT!!!! Hold on to your seats and get ready for what could quite possibly be the GREATEST AMA SESSION OF YOUR LIFE!!!!

Hi guys! Greetings from the USAF Thunderbirds!!! I'm Captain Jason "Jaws" Curtis, Thunderbird #6 and I'm stoked to be here to chat with you! As one of the new guys on the Team, I fly as the Opposing Solo where I get to showcase the maximum power of the F-16 Fighting Falcon while flying upside down just a few feet above the ground. (Of course, this is easier to do when our team is not sequestered.)

It is a thrill to watch the crowd jump after the famous 'Sneak Pass', but don't be mistaken; there is a lot more to being a Thunderbird than just performing at air shows. I am a combat fighter pilot who has served in Korea, Afghanistan, and Libya.

While not at work, I enjoy racing my '68 Camaro and playing the drums. I named my Thunderbird #6 aircraft after my baby daughter, Aurora. I am from a small town in Montana called Kalispell.

With that being said, I invite you to ASK ME ANYTHING! Please feel free to share with me your thoughts and questions. Get ready for a fun AMA session!

PROOF: (Me and my fighter jet, the "Sweet Baby Aurora 6") www.instagram.com/p/Y0VvKCO4Ty/

Learn more about the Thunderbirds at www.instagram.com/afthunderbirds , www.facebook.com/afthunderbirds and www.twitter.com/afthunderbirds .

UPDATE: Hey guys! Thanks so much for the awesome questions. You guys ROCK!!!! Hope to see you at a show soon. Capt Jason "Jaws" Curtis, Thunderbird #6 signing off.....

Comments: 1175 • Responses: 56  • Date: 

Fear_The_Goat372 karma

What's the closest call to an accident you've ever experienced?

afthunderbirds1099 karma

My engine quit over the adriatic sea near Venice in 2009. I couldn't get it restarted and had to dead-stick it in to a nearby airfield. I had to jettison the fuel tanks to make it back safely. Thank God no one was hurt. I landed with one hand on the stick and one hand ready to pull the ejection seat. That was quite a day. Went home and kissed my wife after that!

you are bringing back very vivid memories....wow! just like yesterday.

dbutter5272 karma

Hey #6

  1. What else have you flown operationally?
  2. How do you feel about the dying fighter pilot culture?

afthunderbirds409 karma

Hey Dbutter,

I am a core (and die hard) F-16 American Fighter Pilot. I love this jet and its mission. I do not crave anything else (not sure if that is good or bad)

I feel that we need keep the fighter pilot culture alive and well. There are so many heroes that have gone before me (my heroes) that have done amazing things as fighter pilots. We owe them a lot and the least we can do is honor them.

That was an awesome question. Gave me goosebumps. Thank you.

Your friend,

Jaws

LordFluffy205 karma

1) I had heard that the Sequester had effected the Blue Angels. Is the same true for the Thunderbirds and if so, how do you feel about it?

2) What was climbing into a combat jet for the first time like?

afthunderbirds378 karma

Hello LordFluffy! Yes, it is true. Our 2013 show season, along with the Blue Angels, has been cancelled. While is was disappointing news to me, we can still make an impact on people's lives for the better without putting on a demonstration. Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak to a classroom of students, as an example. That was awesome!!!

Climbing in to the F-16 for the first time was a dream come true!!!! I wish I could describe it. There is nothing like it!!!!

nohandsnick164 karma

Capt Curtis,

Do you think the USAF is well positioned to meet future national mission objectives with the introduction of the F-35A and the resulting force structure?

Secondly, what's your opinion on the argument that the age of air power is over; negated by asymmetrical ground forces, reductions in military ground targets and unlikelihood of a peer-to-peer air engagements? I hear this all the time... seeing as how you flew in Libya, I'd love your opinion on it. Thanks! You rock!

afthunderbirds215 karma

Yes! I love this question! Let me see if I can do it justice......

I believe the F-35 will actually help create an asymmetrical balance in favor of the us and coalition partrners, and it will carry us for at least the next 40 years. The cost is high, but the benefit will be even higher. the options it will provide our decision makers will help our diplomacy even before the military option is on the table.

You do not have to go very far to confirm for yourself that the age of airpower is NOT over. Our current National Security Strategy outlines a very balanced approach to sovereign options that the POTUS has. Airpower is just one of them.

You as well, nohandnick, also rock!!!

Jaws

Aviator506160 karma

I am currently aspiring to be a pilot in the Air Force. I already have my private license and am about to finish my instrument rating and I'm going to start ROTC at ERAU in the fall. Any tips on how to help my chances?

afthunderbirds223 karma

Wow! you are already light years ahead of me!!!! my advice is to ask you for advice on how to be so high speed at such a young age.

All I can offer up is to never let anyone rip your dreams away from you!!!

your friend,

Jaws

aero1992115 karma

Hey, Captain Curtis. First off, thanks for doing what you do. The Thunderbirds are a huge inspiration to many, even to an adorable wittle 20 year old like me.

  • What’s your callsign, and how’d you get it?

  • Best story from instructing in the Falcon?

  • Blue Angels and Thunderbirds get into a dogfight. Who wins and why?

  • If you had a choice, would you have chosen a solo slot over one of the four-ship ones?

Thanks again. I love your show. The sneak pass is the best, and while you weren’t on the team yet, here’s a picture I took of the pass last year. Try to convince other T-Birds to do one of these! Stay safe, and hope to see you all in the air soon!

afthunderbirds122 karma

Hi there! Thanks for the questions! My callsign is "Jaws". While it sounds cool, I recieved it from doing something 'novice' in the jet where my peers laughed at me!!!! It was a funny story.

Best story from instruction was teaching a young fighter pilot how to drop bombs for the first time.

Thunderbirds will come out victorious in a dogfight. The mighty Blk 52 F-16 is incredible.

Solo by far. The other guys won't admit it, but they are Solos as heart, too!

aero199269 karma

My callsign is "Jaws". While it sounds cool, I recieved it from doing something 'novice' in the jet where my peers laughed at me!!!! It was a funny story.

Oh, c'mon, don't leave us hanging!

Thanks again for answering these questions. Have a good one.

(For anyone interested in a list of tons of callsigns and their stories...)

afthunderbirds109 karma

It will take about two hours to tell that story.....

...."imagine a young Lt fighter pilot on his first sortie in Korea....."

pas4699 karma

It already comes across that you love your job. How many years in combat roles do you have to have under your belt before being considered?

afthunderbirds170 karma

I have about 5 years in combat units plus a year as an instructor under my belt. You can do it too!

Yes indeed I love my job...it is a beautiful thing to live your childhood dream!!!

Thanks for the question :)

justin_MC79 karma

Do you ever take for granted that you're in one of the coolest careers in the existence of humanity?

afthunderbirds249 karma

NEVER. My approach to my career is one of humility and respect. Please realize that I did not get here by myself!!!! I had teachers in high school who believed in me. I grew up in a single parent family because my father was killed in his jet before I was born. I am thankful to all. Before every show I get on my knees and pray that I might lift up the crowd and make them feel good about themselves, and to walk away with a sense of American pride.

I am very humbled and thankful that I have been given the opportunity to do this everyday!

Nice question....gave me goosebumps!

Your friend,

Jaws

munky_quack78 karma

[deleted]

afthunderbirds131 karma

I have a lot of brother fighter pilots who now fly drones. They did not make this move by choice, but out of duty. Drones are here to stay and will provide an ever increasing role in armed conflict.

Nice q--you rock!

Jaws

tehsuper69 karma

Supposedly only about 5-10% of the attendants to flight school get to flight jets, let alone fighter jets.

What would you say the porcentage of somebody actually making it to thunderbirds really is? (1 in 10,000?)

afthunderbirds155 karma

Man, good question. I don't really know what the percentage is. I will say, however, that the best fighter pilots in our Air Force are the ones overseas serving in combat right now and the ones at Weapons School.

I just merely represent that. My hat is off to them.

You the man, tehsuper!!!!!

Jaws

ycantifindone61 karma

Hey #6, former JTAC here, may have even talked to you in Afghanistan!

How does preparing for a combat mission compare to the type of flying you do now?

Thanks for doing an AMA, you guys are awesome

afthunderbirds100 karma

Hey brother, if you are a former JTAC, then you are a friend of mine.....I have NOTHING but respect for you guys. Your job must have been tough! Drinks on me whenever we get to meet, I'm serious.

I approach what I do now with the same intensity as combat. The focus is just a little different. Instead of helping my brothers on the ground who are in harms way, I try to encapsulate those stores (of you) and showcase them to the public. YOUR story deserves to be told, not mine. I am just honored to do it.

Much respect,

Jaws

1228858 karma

What's it like working with the rest of the Tracy family?

But seriously, what's the mindset you have to be in when going up in a jet?

Okay one more: Does anyone ever say "Thunderbirds are Go!" at the beginning of a mission?

afthunderbirds77 karma

Wow! That is an old TV show!!! I like it. The person I am when the cockpit closes is a very different person than the one when I am on the ground. On the ground, I like to be cool and laid back. In the air, I transform into someone else.....not quite sure what goes on, but its almost like something or someone takes over me.....

I cannot either confirm nor deny the "Thunderbirds are Go!" question.....gotta keep you guessing!

Jaws

nohandsnick50 karma

Capt Curtis, Is it true that the USAF Thunderbirds fly the oldest F-16s in USAF inventory? If so, what Block and approximately how old are they? Thanks!

afthunderbirds98 karma

Hi! No, we don't fly the oldest...our jets were created in 1992. We fly the most powerful F-16--the mighty Block 52!!!!

Lets go fly, what do you think?!?

The_Cat_Downvoter49 karma

How many times per day are you asked if you're the real-life Tom Cruise?

afthunderbirds71 karma

Ahhhhh, that is funny. Just like once or twice.......:)

JohnMT1744 karma

Hi Capt.

First of all, a big thanks to you and everyone who serves this country. Second, I wrote a comment to the AF Thunderbirds on instagram, my response was to ask you on the forum, so as a life long fan from at least 3 years old, I am wondering how I can get a ride? Pretty much been a life long dream of mine.

Sad not to see you guys perform this year.

afthunderbirds77 karma

Hi John, thanks for the note! Also, thanks so much for the support!!!! Thunderbird rides are IN FACT possible--we have a program called the 'hometown hero' program where we honor someone in the local community who has given back and helped make this world a better place. Other than that, we fly media personnel, so if you write a story about your flight with us, that will help us with our outreach. Unfortunately none of us are flying right now.....I want to fly in a Thunderbird jet as well. Ha! Thanks again for your support! your friend, Jaws

Gilffanclub42 karma

What's the oldest one you've...piloted?

afthunderbirds63 karma

I remember flying a 1940's Lescomb out of grass airstrips back home in montana. It was a bast!!!!

pas4640 karma

I have to ask, have you ever had a situation when you thought, that was too close ! and that moment you felt your heart skip a beat?

afthunderbirds76 karma

Yes...that is what makes life worth living!!!! There are plenty of close calls in our business, but the good news is that we are the most highly trained professionals in the world!

lets go fly!!!

Chebyshev36 karma

Ever ski at Big Mountain? I went out there for nationals one year in the 90s and it was incredible. 3 feet the day we arrived (at the Kalispell airport!) and more over the week.

afthunderbirds78 karma

Hey brother, Big Mountain is my HOME MOUNTAIN!!!!! I was there every Friday night, Sat and Sun from 3 years old until 18!!!!! I love that place. I know all the secret runs and powder staches that usually go untouched. I'm glad you got to experience it. Let's go back, then hang out at Moose's afterwards!!!

Jaws

bunnytrox31 karma

How long have you served in the military.

afthunderbirds65 karma

I have served for 8 years after graduating from the Air Force Academy!!!

thanks for the question!

stagnant9431 karma

as someone who grew up watching that puppet thunderbirds show on TV this AMA deceived me briefly.

afthunderbirds42 karma

Be decieved no longer!!!! Good morning from Thunderbird #6!!!!!

Hope you are doing well.

Jaws

ibefunlkg30 karma

awesome Missoula, Montana here lol so when is there ever going to be an air show with the Thunderbirds here or near Montana?

afthunderbirds47 karma

Yeah!!!!! Montana represent!!!!!! Man, I am REALLY trying to bring the Thunderbirds back home. We had a show scheduled in Kalispell this summer, but it has been cancelled. I know they are looking to turn it back on for next year, so hopefully I will get a chance to meet you! When was the last time you climbed to the top of the "M"?!? Ha! Thanks for writing. Your Montana friend, Jaws

megasmart9529 karma

How do you think the Thunderbirds compare to The Red Arrows?

afthunderbirds61 karma

The Red Arrows are great. A whole lot more jets and maybe some more finesse.

What the Thunderbirds bring is Afterburning Engines that are so LOUD THEY WILL MAKE YOUR TEETH RATTLE!!!! Pretty tough to compare to that. Now, when you add on top the professional ground demonstration of our maintainers (the best in the world) and some good 'ol American Rock n' Roll music on top......well, it just doesn't get any better than that!!!

Rock on, my brother.

Jaws

packermatt728 karma

Sir, I'm a first class cadet at the Air Force Academy (graduating at the end of May and heading to pilot training). Love your shows at graduation every year... but it doesn't look like we'll have you guys here to flyover due to sequestration. Huge bummer. Is there any options on the table to get you guys here just for the flyover? How bummed are you that you don't get to do the Academy show? I hear it's a fun one.

Thanks for your service sir, and I hope to see you in the Air Force someday! Maybe pull some G's with you...

afthunderbirds33 karma

Hey there, my man. I am really sorry that we will not be putting on a demo to help celebrate your big day. Trust me, i'm bummin' more than you!!! I still remember throwing up my hat on that day in 2004. unfortunately we can't even due a flyover due to the fiscal situation. This challenge is on a national level and we are just a small part of it.

Good luck....you will do well! Hope to meet you in the future!

Take_Me_To_Elysium28 karma

What is your craziest memory from a combat mission?

afthunderbirds80 karma

The opening night of combat operations over Libya. What a sight to see. I have never witnessed so much professionalism from tactical aviators before in my life. Puts a tear in a fighter pilots eye.

Maybe we can talk more about the specifics of it when it becomes unclassified.

thanks for the question.

TB#6

TheLastGundam18623 karma

What College did you go to? And if so, did you pursue ROTC or OTS? I was in ROTC but was medically disqualified through miswording on my DODMERB, but I am finding ways around getting it overturned, so any help and inspiration is much appreciated!

afthunderbirds43 karma

Hi there Last Gundam!

I was honored to attend the USAFA....never thought I would get in!!! I am sorry to hear about your medical situation. I will humbly offer up to never give up hope--there are many waivers that you can pursue. If it is truly what you want to do, I know there is a way. Good luck! your friend, jaws (thunderbird #6!)

cbh3dy23 karma

Jaws, do you ever get a chance to fly the mighty T-51 anymore?

afthunderbirds25 karma

Hey brother, sorry I haven't flown the mighty T-51. I would love to give it a try, though! take care. your friend, jaws

yeah_at_work_so19 karma

Just want to say thanks for serving. I've watched many Thunderbird shows going back to the 70's and I will say that the head on pass where you rotate 90 degrees still gives me goose bumps no matter how many times I see it.

afthunderbirds29 karma

Man, that head on pass still gives me goosebumps every time I fly it! It takes a lot of concentration to make that maneuver turn out well!!!

I hope we will put on an airshow for you soon!

Thumper51019 karma

Hello 6! Can you provide your opinion on the band Purple Helmet? Specifically, the rhythm section? I think they're pretty righteous.

TBirds rock!

afthunderbirds26 karma

Thumper!!!!!!

Good to hear from you brother!!!!! I don't know about the drummer, but I do know that there bass player is the best this world has ever seen!!! Gives Flea a run for his money!!!

RULE!

Jaws

drundge17 karma

Quick FYI, I've loved the Thunderbirds since a very early age!

How often do you guys cross paths with other demo teams such as the Blue Angels? Is there a good rivalry involved? Do you have many dealings with other international demo teams?

afthunderbirds28 karma

There IS a friendly rivalry between us and the Blues!!!! But more than that, there is a whole lotta mutual respect!!!! We haven't been able to cross paths with the Blues due to current DoD airshow policy....gotta spread it out to reach out!!!!

Jaws

explodingsheep17 karma

Can you describe what goes on in your mind when you pull ridiculous G's?

afthunderbirds41 karma

not much goes through my mind, really. Ha! Because it is so physical, you really can't think. When we pull 9 G's very close to the ground, it HAS to be by feel and it had to be instinctual.

you think and you are dead!

Take care,

Jaws

under___score16 karma

I start SUPT at Vance in a few months. What would be your biggest advice for excelling? Any outside sources that you know of that would be helpful?

Congrats on making the T-Birds! It's a big goal of mine for the future as well.

afthunderbirds30 karma

Hey brother, congrats on making it to pilot training!!!! The best advice i can give you is to remember that the ONLY two things you can control is your ATTITUDE and your EFFORT.

All else is details. Be a good team member to your upt class as well.

You can be a Thunderbird. Heck, if I can do it, you DEFINITELY can do it. Dont sell yourself short of your dream. Good luck!

G3516 karma

Maybe dumb question but I'll give it a shot: Which is the consumer based flight simulator comes the closest to the real thing?

afthunderbirds23 karma

Ask the FS Thunderbirds--they have that stuff down to a science. You can google them and find out some info. Maybe Thrustmaster, I think?

Jaws

Madmen5915 karma

When you form up for the six ship, do you find it more challenging to fly close-in or to hold formation farther apart? (5 card and line abreast come to mind.)

afthunderbirds31 karma

Whats up Madmen?!?

5 card and line break are VERY challenging. They require a lot of 'feel' and have little room for error. The six ship portion is also difficult because by the time us Solos get there, we are usually physically exhausted and have been 'wild and free' for the last 45 minutes.

that is why i really enjoy this job--it is very challenging!!!

thanks for an awesome question!!!!

your friend, jaws

tink40414 karma

How different is it for you flying over the ocean vs at an airbase. example: Atlantic City vs McGuire.

Also, thanks for being great to the crowd. I got to meet the #5 mechanic in 2007 and he took me and my parents (my dad is a huge, huge fan) out to the tarmac after the airshow and awesome pictures were taken. Plus, meeting Malachowski was pretty cool.

afthunderbirds23 karma

I'm glad you got to meet Fifi and some of our crew--by all means grab us and pull us aside....don't be shy!

Over water shows are very challenging due to the lack of a clearly defined show line.

thanks again for your support!!!!

Jaws

harrydickinson13 karma

Are you aweare that they made a movie about you in 1968? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunderbird_6

afthunderbirds26 karma

You know it!!!!! I think it was a science fiction thing, right?

i_me_me13 karma

Hey jaws,

When you leave the t-birds what skill set will be most improved and be most beneficial to your role as a combat pilot?

Do you have to perform combat training on top of your performance trading as well during the of season?

afthunderbirds16 karma

I think the biggest skill set I will take away is just how to motivate people and become a leader. That is very important to me.

Because the show is so demanding, we focus solely on putting on a safe show. I have had many combat experiences, and I will return to a combat unit after leaving the team.

Thanks!

Jaws

rockhardorange12 karma

My uncle just left the thunderbirds for Italy. He only had good things to say

afthunderbirds21 karma

Is your uncle Lt Col Chris Austin?

mikey44412 karma

Good afternoon!

1) How much PIC time does a typical fighter pilot get in a week/months time?(war time and base time)

afthunderbirds20 karma

As a combat ready pilot we get about 15 hours a month (10 sorties). As a Thunderbird, we sometimes get over 40 sorties a month to perform our demonstration safely. It is very physically demanding to put on a show, and i love it!!!!! take care, jaws

iSauceSauce11 karma

Hi, I'm currently in ROTC program at my tech college and I'll be going to field training this summer. Bit nervous, but it'll be the most fun I never want to have again (atleast that's what I hear).
- I was just wondering what the day to day experience is like for you before you became a Thunderbird. Like as a combat pilot. I'm looking for a CSO slot next year and I just wanted to know what it is like to be in a rated position on a day to day basis?
Thanks for your service, Captain

afthunderbirds18 karma

Being a day to day combat fighter pilot is great--I would put it on par (if not above) being a Thunderbird. As a combat pilot, I was doing the J.O.B. of the Air Force, not just flashy jets and tight show suits.

Rated or non-rated, I have witnessed brothers in all AFSC's in the Air Force that love their job. You, my friend, will to. Don't be nervous....it is just pure fun.

Your friend,

Jaws

g0ldendomer10 karma

No question, just want to say thanks for a consistently amazing show! I grew up in Battle Creek, MI and always loved watching the Thunderbirds on the 4th. My house was directly under the flight path of the solo plane and it always felt like it broke the sound barrier right over us. I remember one year it brought down some pictures on the wall!

afthunderbirds15 karma

YEAH!!!! We are doing our job, then!!!!! I hear that Battle Creek is a favorite amongst the Team--you guys treat us so well. I am sorry that we will not be there for the 4th this year. No one wants to be there more than me!!!!!

Solos Rule!

Siiix!

la-dirty-cuban10 karma

If you could would you get a pet narwhal?

afthunderbirds26 karma

Hello La Dirty Cuban!!!

Man, it is like you read my mind....I would love a pet narwhal!!!!

maybe a little wombat as well?!? what do you think?

D0kk3n9 karma

Where were you stationed for training? I am from Columbus,MS and the base there puts out a large number of pilots.

afthunderbirds10 karma

Hi there,

I have a lot of friends that went to Columbus, but I went to Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, TX. Then, I went to Luke AFB to learn how to fly the mighty F-16!!!! All over the world since then.

Take care, brother!

Your friend,

Thunderbird#6

SwanGnBang9 karma

My dad is one of your biggest fans, and it's a close toss up to who he likes better between you and the Blue Angels, but I think you guys edge them out. I've been going to you're airshows since I was a kid with my brothers and my dad, and I just want to say thank you very much for carrying on a legacy/tradition. Can I get a shout out to Tom J. from Texas?!

afthunderbirds10 karma

Tom J, what's going on, MY BROTHER?!? Mad props.

Thanks for the kind words and the support. The Blue Angels are great, and I speak with Blue Angel #6 often. There is a lot of mutual respect there. They offer unique aspects to their demo, but I am a bit biased and truly believe we put on a show that will lift people up and make them feel good about being Americans.

Take care. Solos Rule!

Jaws

v1perdr1ve7 karma

So awesome that you are doing this AMA. Just wanted to say, thanks for making people smile. My dad flew on the demo team when he was in the Viper. Fucking cool watching him at air shows. Keep living the dream!

afthunderbirds12 karma

Rock on, my brother!!!!! Much respect to you and your father. Thanks for the support!

Jaws

cdnflyboy7 karma

Hello #6! Obviously you love your team, but I was wondering about your opinion on other teams (Canada's Snowbirds, the Blue Angels, The UK's Red Arrows etc)

afthunderbirds7 karma

They are all awesome (....except the Blues). Ha! I kid, they are all great. I have yet to see the Snowbirds fly, but one of my instructor pilots at ENJJPT was a former Snowbird pilot. He taught how to fly formation in the T-38, and is the reason I enjoy flying in formation so much. His name is Chris Van Vliet, and he is one heck of a pilot!

Nice question!

Jaws

hca5 karma

How did you become a combat fighter pilot who also performs for a crowd? What kind of education and experience did you need for such a position?

afthunderbirds14 karma

I had a dream since I was four years old and I have been pursuing it ever since. Also, it is such an honor to serve our country in this capacity. I have an aero degree from the Academy and a Masters degree from ERAU. You need about 750 hours of fighter time to apply for a Thunderbird position. Thanks for the questions!!!!

ima_monstaaa5 karma

I always wanted to be a fighter pilot growing up. I learned everything I could about fighter jets when I was young, but never pursued it. I found out I was colorblind when I was young and didn't want to join the military if I didn't have a chance of being a pilot. I spend a lot of time playing flight sims now, like DCS World. Just wanted to say that you guys have always been an incredible inspiration to me and always will be.

afthunderbirds18 karma

Hey, brother. Thanks so much for the kind words. Please realize that we fly for you too!!!! I have never forgot my friends or the people I have met that have told me a story similiar to yours. I keep those stories with me every time I fly.

I fly for you.

Rock on!

Jaws

Spitfire154 karma

How many G's do you think you can pull before passing out? How many do you think you could pull/people could pull in a prop-driver fighter without the gear that was available back then. (Lets say a P-51 in 1945)

afthunderbirds10 karma

Wow, I dunno. I'm right at my limit with 9G's. The world starts to get 'gray' after that for me.

I'd say maybe 5G's. The G-suit helps a lot, especially when we are close to the ground!

Jaws

cjmaldrich4 karma

What are your thoughts on the Cheyenne, Wyoming show being cancelled this year? Would it have been better to axe others to keep the longtime tradition going?

afthunderbirds8 karma

Man, I really wish we could have kept Cheyenne alive. The Team has been there since 1953 and it was the first air show that we ever did. Sad to see that go away.

Unfortunately EVERY SHOW got axed. The decision to cancel the Thunderbirds this year was on a National level.

Sorry for the bad news!!!! Cheyenne Frontier Days Rocks, though!!!!

Jaws

Madmen594 karma

In your instructing days, ever fly with another instructor, call sign "TESS"?

afthunderbirds5 karma

don't think so. is he awesome?!!

moverall1014 karma

Hi Capt. Thanks for doing this AMA. A couple of questions: During your time with the Thunderbirds, have you had the chance to perform in Latin America? And if so, was it more challenging than doing so in the U.S.? Again, thank you and keep up the good job!

afthunderbirds8 karma

Hey, thanks for the question!!!! Unfortunately, I haven't had the honor of performing a show in Latin America. We went there a couple of years ago before I was on the Team. Also, I think one of our largest shows was down there as well.

Each show site has its unique variables, so they are all a challenge (and a whole lotta fun, too).

Thanks for the kind words!

Arashikage884 karma

Hey #6, I am a very large aircraft enthusiast, and I saw you guys at the 2010(I think) airshow in Rhode Island, I have to say, it was one of the best demonstrations I've ever seen.

I was wondering, how did you get your nickname, "Jaws"?

And while I'm at it, what's your favorite music style to drum to?

Thanks for the AMA!

afthunderbirds7 karma

Hey brother, thanks for the kind words and support! My favorite music (band) right now is the Red Hot Chili Peppers--Chad Smith is one of my heroes on the drums. Awesome guy, and super humble.

Check out one of the comments above for the story behind "Jaws"....

Thanks for the shout out!

J.A.W.S.

mastermyn3 karma

if you could drive any plane in history for an airshow, would it still be the f-16?

do you get grief from the guys flying the newer stuff(f-22 or f-35)?

ever bail out of a plane?

afthunderbirds7 karma

Man, I REALLY love the F-16!!!! One of my first memories was seeing the Thunderbirds when I was 4 years old.

If I lived in another era, I would kill to fly the P-51. Best fighter in my opinion.

No grief from my F-22 or F-35 brothers, only respect. I've got mutual respect right back at them. Truth.

ATPLPilot3 karma

Have you got any interest in classic warbirds or older jets? I'm a commercial guy but I've always wanted to fly the Hawker Hunter. Have you any ambition for flying in 'classic' flights, or have you done so already?

Also, do you do any tours in Nellis? I've got a group of student pilots that would love a trip.

afthunderbirds9 karma

My grandfather flew the Spitfire for the RAF in WWII.....so naturally I love classic warbirds. The Hawker Hunter would be an absolute thrill to fly. I always dream of flying in the Battle of Britain like my grandfather--those must have been the days!

Jaws

FSTB5Dirty2 karma

Hey Jaws....since you guys aren't in the air as much, has Deuce fig'd out any other ways to mess with ya? What drums do you play? I owned a set of Tama Artstar II's for awhile. Btw, I don't want to just thank you for your service, but also thank your family for supporting you and your career. Big shout out to your team from the Flight Simulator Thunderbirds! You guys/gals are truly a class act.

afthunderbirds4 karma

Ahhhhh, Deuce is one wiley of a guy! We are always pulling pranks on each other and finding ways to get at each other. I play a set of Premiers, but I would really like to get some DW's. Thanks for the kind words to the family...I will pass this on to Larissa and Aurora!

FS Thunderbirds rock!!!! Stop me at a show sometime....let's chat.

your friend,

Jaws