I am also known as Three, Right Wing, Major Jensen and Blaze. As a Diamond pilot I fly as close as 18 inches from the Thunderbird Lead, from 450 knots to 150 knots and back. We can pull up to 9 G's and fly as low as 300' above the ground. I have been in the Air Force for 15 years after graduating from the Air Force Academy (go Falcons!) with a Bachelor of Science in English (go Literature!). I am the first female Reserve Officer to fly for the team, as well as the first mom to fly for the team. I am currently the only woman officer on the team. I grew up in Wisconsin and have been all over the world with the Air Force including the US, Korea and Iraq. I love to spend time with my family, swim, run, lift weights, travel and shop (I'll buy almost anything with airplanes on it). I make a mean chocolate chip cookie. I love to laugh and long walks on the beach. Can't wait to hear from you.... Ask Me Anything.

Proof: http://instagram.com/p/Z8WL-ru4Zw/

Learn more about the Thunderbirds at www.afthunderbirds.com. Instagram/Facebook/Twitter at : AFThunderbirds

UPDATE: Thanks for all the questions! Stay tuned for more Thunderbirds in upcoming weeks and get ready to Ask them Anything!

Comments: 214 • Responses: 81  • Date: 

krampot13 karma

Stroker would like to know if you think he's sexy. Thanks!

afthunderbirds15 karma

If I had a nickel....

razorsheldon13 karma

Who would win in a dog fight between the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels, and why?

afthunderbirds28 karma

Tbirds all day. I fought Hornets, they get one good turn and they are out of energy. :)

smilingasIsay2 karma

How about against the Canadian Snowbirds?

afthunderbirds18 karma

Those guys don't stand a chance. :) We had a few shows with them last year and they were great. A fighter pilot is a fighter pilot no matter what country they fly for. I did not get to fly in their demo, but I flew a few of them in my back seat during our practice day and they really loved the afterburner!

satanicwaffles7 karma

Canadian pilot here who had the immense pleasure of volunteering at an airshow at which the Snowbirds attended. The types of displayed and aircraft are very different.

The CL-114 Tutor that the Snowbirds fly is a 50+ year old training aircraft. They simply do not have the aerodynamics and propulsion to preform the ear-splitting high speed maneuvers that the TBirds preform.

I don't want this taken the wring way, but The Snowbirds disregard the loud noised and high speeds and tend to focus on more formations and do so with more grace. That is not to take away from the TBirds or any other display team. What they do takes big ball/ovaries and is not for the faint of heart. They are just different.

afthunderbirds1 karma

I have nothing but good things to say about the Snowbirds! We had a few shows with them last year and there's a lot of mutual respect between all the teams. They have some very unique maneuvers and the extra aircraft they fly with looks great!

baldpig2 karma

What about the red arrows? :D

afthunderbirds2 karma

The Thunderbirds and Red Arrows got to meet in 2011, I wasn't there but I heard it was a lot of fun.

mutualwra12 karma

According to the Departement of Defense, woman comprise over 16% of the total Air Force. According to some sources one out of five Woman are sexually harassed. Being a Woman in the Air Force such as yourself, i'm wondering if this has happened to you.

What do you feel about this? How do you think we can help this change? What do you suggest to Woman in the Air Force who are new and want to avoid this all together to do?

afthunderbirds20 karma

I think we are around 20%, still a minority. I have heard in the news a lot about sexual harassment and have had a lot of training over my 19 years (4 at the Air Force Academy, 10 on Active Duty and 5 in the Reserve) so I know that it is a problem the Air Force is working on continuously. I can honestly say that I have not had problems with it, or anyone close to me. While there have been jokes, or comments, I have never had an issue when I tell someone that they have crossed a line. Which happens very rarely.

FancyMojo11 karma

Maintainer here, how do I get picked up for special duty to be a spec on the Thunderbirds?

afthunderbirds9 karma

Send a message to our FaceBook page and we will have more information for you! We'll get you in touch with the right people.

[deleted]1 karma


afthunderbirds1 karma

It's not, but unfortunately sometimes it's the easiest way to communicate. Especially with some of these young whipper snappers.

rvansteenberg7 karma


Is there a reason why the Thunderbirds fly the #3 ship on the right wing and the Blue Angels fly the #3 ship on the Left Wing?

afthunderbirds46 karma

Good question.... I think we are right and they are confused. ;)

Neo19937 karma

Question from my 10 year old daughter: What was your first reaction when you learned that your were chosen to be on the Thunderbirds?

afthunderbirds16 karma

I was at Disneyland with my family. I was actually standing in Cinderella's Castle when all 12 officers from the 2011 team called me to congratulate me on my selection. I was so happy I felt like my feet were hardly hitting the ground. Then I got back to my room and turned on the news and there was a story about the Blue Angels and that the leader had stepped down, which was a good reality check that I would be under a microscope of sorts for the next two years. It has been a great experience, that we take very seriously, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Salacious-6 karma

If you had the opportunity to pilot any fictional vehicle, which would you pick?

afthunderbirds32 karma

My 4 year old would really think I am cool if I could fly the Millenium Falcon!

Grubnar4 karma

He/she is right!

afthunderbirds6 karma

He :)

dmukya6 karma

  • Where did you go for flight training once you commissioned?
  • Do you know any officers who were non-volunteered for drone duty?
  • Which blocks of the F-16 have you flown?
  • Most tedious part of Air Command and Staff College?
  • Which officer AFSCs have you found out about and thought "Gee, I wish I could do that instead."?

afthunderbirds7 karma

  • Laughlin AFB, Del Rio, TX
  • I did. About 5 of them from Hill AFB in 2007-08
  • Block 25, 40, 52
  • The tests
  • I love being a fighter pilot, but I like to learn about how all the parts of the AF work together.

gaylemw6 karma

Hats off to all U.S. airmen. We rely on your capabilities and you carry out your mission with honor and dedication.

afthunderbirds30 karma

Thanks, Mom....

frameRAID4 karma

18" is incredibly close! Have you had any close calls or "whoopsies" that have really scared you?

afthunderbirds5 karma

There are plenty of tense moments at the beginning of training season, and things go a little outside of the plan as we gain proficiency throughout the year and we learn the show better and how each of us fly. We get really good at putting the uncomfortable moments behind us right away and focusing on the next task.

StdntPilotMark4 karma

Blaze, great to see you & the team maintaining your role as ambassadors of the Air force. I have to agree that it was a shame that you were not allowed to do the fly over at the USAFA graduation this year, it was a huge break in the honor & tradition of the Air Force. My question though, is: what are you & the team doing to maintain currency, and what are you flying to do it in? Thanks! Mark & Hailey LaCoste (Sacramento, Ca.)

afthunderbirds2 karma

Hi Mark, and say hi to Hailey too!!!! I have a simulator in about 1.5 hrs... We are going to "fly" a show with the diamond (1, 2, 3, 4) over Shaw Air Force base, and we are going to do emergency procedures, too. So I can practice how to handle my aircraft if there is a problem in close formation and how to ensure the crowd is safe. TB7, our safety observer will even be there, just like a show to get through the checklists.

Neo19934 karma

Question from my 10 year old son (No, I don't let them have their own Reddit accounts :)): Does your family get to travel with you?

afthunderbirds4 karma

What is the appropriate age for a Reddit account anyway?

My family did travel with me a lot last year! My husband flies for a major airline and my son was 3 so they traveled to a lot of shows, 15 in total including the local ones. I had lots of other family and friends at the shows, too. It's great to share the Thunderbird experience (and the Air Force experience!) with everyone, family included!

afthunderbirds6 karma

And, yes. My husband is pretty super awesome to travel all over the US (he even went to Alaska) with a 3 year old!

Neo19934 karma

I told them 18 was an appropriate age for a Reddit account ;) - but I'm sure I will relent and lower it at some point.

My daughter also wants to know how someone is chosen to be on the Thunderbirds, and would you have imagined yourself doing that when you were 10?

afthunderbirds5 karma

There are 120 people on the team, 12 are officers and the rest are enlisted. The enlisted application is similar but they do not travel to a show like the officers do. We all put in applications with performance reports, letters of recommendation, a resume, a photo in our service dress (This is pretty funny http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/230051/june-11-2009/operation-iraqi-stephen---fallback-position---air-force-thunderbirds), the pilots sent in their entire Flying Evaluation Folder which has every check ride write up we ever did. The demo pilot candidates were narrowed down from about 40, to a semi-final interview of 12, to a final interview of 6 from which 3 were selected. We only replace 1/2 of the demonstration pilots each year to keep experience and maximize safety. So, I guess, yes I might have imagined myself being a fighter pilot at 10.

topdog8592 karma

With your husband being a pilot as well, do you get to spend a lot of time with your son? I imagine between the two of you there isn't a lot of time...

afthunderbirds2 karma

It gets to be difficult at times, but they were able to travel a lot with me last year. This year, since we aren't flying I get to spend time with him everyday. The military life is a little different for marriage. Military families don't always celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or holidays on the actual day.

nutwrinkles4 karma

Do you love that your husband is the Deuce? I think it is awesome! Ever pull rank, you know, make him do stuff he doesn't want to do?

afthunderbirds5 karma

He's pretty awesome, and was a F-16 pilot as well before he started flying for the airlines. He's a pretty great pilot in his own right and will be an awesome captain some day.

totheredditmobile4 karma

What is the future of the Thunderbird pilots looking like now that the team has been disbanded?

afthunderbirds5 karma

We are planning to start flying again at the beginning of the fiscal year. 1 October. Let's hope the budget is approved.

The majority of Nellis operations will be done flying as well tomorrow. Sequestration has had a big impact here!

cliff_diver3 karma

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far? How did you push through the stressful times of life?

How has flight technology changed since you first started out flying?

Though you must be very focused as a pilot, what has been the strangest thought you've had while flying?

If you wanted to relax and take a short break from it all, where would you travel to?

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Thanks for answering!

afthunderbirds5 karma

In order of your questions.....

Flying in combat and supporting the troops on the ground. You compartmentalize the tough stuff and keep going. The LINK16, helmet mounted cueing system, advanced targeting pod made the F-16 much more capable even with it's somewhat limited fuel. Sometimes I think about what the crowd is thinking while I am flying, especially if I know there are friends there. Australia/New Zealand. I don't like ice cream.

pesmerga20073 karma

I am willing to sign literally any paperwork, and allow doctors to do any radical experiments they want if you guys will take me up.

On a serious note, if the Air Force forced the thunderbirds to pick a different aircraft, which would you want to go up in, and why?

afthunderbirds5 karma

https://www.facebook.com/AFThunderbirds?ref=ts&fref=ts Check out the video I posted on the FB page yesterday, I think you'll like it.

I love the F-16 and would rather stay..... I guess you'd have to go F-22 or 35

pesmerga20071 karma

Everyone has to have love for the 16, but that Raptor is a sexy sexy machine.

Thank you for the reply, I grew up in battle creek, we love having you guys and the city needs something to look forward to.

afthunderbirds3 karma

Battle Creek was one of my favorite stops last year! The community was so wonderful to us and I loved the Balloons at night. I hope the Tbirds are back there soon!

Evo1ve13 karma

Of all the aircraft the Thunderbirds have flown before the F-16, which would you choose to fly in a show if you could? And why?

afthunderbirds5 karma

I flew T-38's before and the Thunderbirds used to use them. The F-16 is so much easier to fly in formation than the T-38s must have been because we have a lot of excess power. I would have to stick with the F-16!

hammernanvil3 karma

Top Gun or Iron Eagle?

afthunderbirds15 karma

Top Gun. Volleyball scene....

ezxhaton3 karma

Maj Jensen, what got you interested in becoming a fighter pilot? Even as an Army guy, I've always loved fighter jets, and am trying to pass the love along to my daughters.

afthunderbirds5 karma

My grandma was stateside in the Coast Guard during WWII, grandpa was in the Coast Guard during WWII, my dad flew helicopters in Vietnam with the Marines. So I always knew I wanted to serve. I saw a TV show that had aircraft flying around clouds and I thought it was amazing. So the idea of service and aviation came together for me when I saw the Thunderbirds fly when I was about 13. Back then women weren't allowed to fly fighters, but my father used the example of the WASP (who ferried all military aircraft during WWII) to show me women could fly anything. My senior year in high school the combat exclusion for women in fighters was lifted and now 20 years later... I have 200+ combat hours and get to fly the Right Wing for the Thunderbirds. Tell them to follow their dreams, even if they seem impossible!

ken272383 karma

I think to qualify for the Air Force everyone should be able to make a great chocolate chip cookie.

afthunderbirds4 karma

I agree, and Thunderbird #5 is a master baker as well.

SOLOS_Rule1 karma

If you and #5 had a super bake off, who would win?

afthunderbirds17 karma

He has an "award" but whatever. His OWN MOTHER told me my cookies were better.

USNAVYBlueAngelsFan3 karma

Are you still flying training sorties or no flying at all. I was excited to see you guys for the first time since 2010 at Wings Over North Georgia! Maybe next year :/

afthunderbirds3 karma

We are not flying at all. The Blues are flying 11 times a month, according to the news. We've got a big training plan ready to get back on our feet when we get flight hours back. Hope you make it to a show next year! We had some great fans who came from all over to go to our one Titusville, FL show this year. It was a great show!

USNAVYBlueAngelsFan3 karma

Yeah, i went to a show where the Blue Angels were supposed to fly and it was a sad sight. Hardly a 1000 people and it is very sad to see the impact upon our airshow community. Best of luck!

afthunderbirds5 karma

Sorry to hear that. Air shows are great wholesome family fun. The thing I miss most is going into communities and meeting kids that wouldn't otherwise be exposed to military aviation. It is great to see that spark in a young kids eye when you know they've got a new dream. That's what happened to me!

DT621 karma

Wish you guys could have done the Cleveland airshow instead of the Blues. 2012 was the last ever, due to declining attendance and two straight years of having at least one day rained out. I was the assistant to the airshow president.

afthunderbirds1 karma

It's hard work to put together an air show, and I don't even know the half of it! It is a real shame when the weather doesn't cooperate!

HighShowsForLife3 karma

How did you get your callsign "Blaze" If I may ask?

afthunderbirds14 karma

I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

rvansteenberg3 karma

If I was developing a tactical fighter doctrine that explained how three air crew could operate more effectively and efficiently than standard two and force ship operating procedures where or who would I submit it to in the Air Force? Check out http://tactical-vee.com if you are interested in three air crew combat aviation tactics.

afthunderbirds3 karma

I like my single seat fighter!

SOLOS_Rule2 karma

Are you one of the solos? You guys are so cool to watch!

afthunderbirds7 karma

The solo's are "loved by millions" hated by four. I am one of the four. The diamond is where it's at!!! Right side!

SOLOS_Rule2 karma

No, left side is the best side!

afthunderbirds8 karma

Right side is the tight side....

redditusername152 karma

Maj Jenson, thank you so much for your service! I think the AF and the Thunderbirds are awesome! My question is, since you are a reservist, what are your plans after your Thunderbird rotation is up? Will you go back to the same reserve unit? If so, do you have to requalify in that plane? Thanks again!

afthunderbirds4 karma

Thanks! I have a few options after the team. I am hoping to get to do a Legislative Fellowship and work with Congress. I have learned a lot in my 15 years in the AF and last year traveling all over the US. If that doesn't work out I will apply for a job at a Reserve unit, but my squadron I came from isn't holding a place for me. I used to fly T-38's but I loved being back in the F-16, and the F-35 looks pretty fun, too....

redditusername152 karma

That's amazing! So you could go to DC and some day we could possibly vote for Maj Caroline Jensen, TB3 for congress? They do have reservists flying the F-35 so that could be a great fit! Good luck in what ever your future endevors are, it sounds like you have some exciting opportunities!

afthunderbirds7 karma

I would work with Congress. I am not going to formerly announce my candidacy for President just yet....

throwaway_1010112 karma

A few of my co-workers were fortunate enough to have a private tour of the museum last week because they arrived just after closing. I wasn't there, but just wanted to say thanks and you guys can expect some swag in the mail soon :)

afthunderbirds3 karma

Thank you! We are all pretty excited to share our experience and to represent the Air Force. It's pretty common to catch someone in the parking lot and get an impromptu tour. Happy to help!

daedalus1142 karma

That's pretty cool, my mom used to do a lot of aviation artwork, drawing pictures of planes for their pilots (usually just for the Blue Angels, though, I don't think we've ever seen you guys in Michigan ;). She hasn't drawn in a while, but I'll send her a link to this AMA and see if she gets interested in military jets again!

afthunderbirds3 karma

We were in Battle Creek last year, it was great! I got to water ski for the first time in a long time, just like riding a bike....

hippo992 karma

I live in Colorado Springs, pretty close to the Academy. I used to watch you fly over the stadium at graduation. It's too bad that didn't happen this year.

afthunderbirds5 karma

We missed flying this year, too. We wish the best of luck to the Class of 2013!

crustys0ck2 karma

What's the scariest thing that's happened to you in your flying career?

afthunderbirds5 karma

Flying with pilot training students can get pretty hairy sometimes! They do really stupid and dangerous stuff because they don't know what they are doing is stupid and dangerous.... That's what the instructor pilots are there for!

XavierSharp2 karma

How was BMT and OTS? Do you feel you got a better perception on things?

afthunderbirds5 karma

I am a graduate of the US Air Force Academy. All the commissioning sources are pretty great way to get officers in the AF, but I still have to say, GO FALCONS!!!

redditusername152 karma

I hope you don't mind if I ask another question. I know that after air shows, you all talk to the crowd and are an inspiration to people who may want to join the air force or become pilots some day, just as you were inspired at a young age. Who have you met during this process that has really inspired you?

afthunderbirds5 karma

I got to meet the WASP Women Airforce Service Pilots this past Memorial Day weekend. They are AMAZING WWII veterans who ferried aircraft, taught other pilots to fly, towed banners.... They were the first women to fly in military aircraft in 1942-1944. Women didn't get back into military aircraft until 1976. If it wasn't for them I might be ferrying aircraft right now in stead of flying for the Tbirds. ;)

They are mostly in the 90's and still going strong! http://www.wingsacrossamerica.us/wasp/

elusivewolf2 karma

In the event of all out war. Would the Thunderbirds be deployed as a unit or would you return to your original squadrons? Do the thunderbirds regularly train for combat maneuvers and sorties on top of the acrobatics?

afthunderbirds3 karma

No, we can turn the planes back to combat ready within 72 hours (with being repainted). We'd all go back to somewhere else to deploy though.

USNAVYBlueAngelsFan2 karma

Hi, During past seasons winter training, your team has met with the Blue Angels. Did that happen this year?

afthunderbirds2 karma

Good question... We didn't unfortunately. We were facing the possibility (now reality) of being sequestered and didn't get to exchange. But there's still time. The exchange is a great learning tool for both teams!

sngldad132 karma

My only experience with military pilots was when I dated a former combat pilot and astronaut's daughter. He drove his vehicle like he was dodging SAM radars, and his family joked a lot about how he drove.

In your experience, do combat pilots drive cars differently than civilians?

afthunderbirds2 karma

I think the slot pilot tailgates a little more than he used to. He's the guy who flies right behind the leader in the 4-ship diamond formation.

AquaQuartz1 karma

How would you describe Air Force fighter pilot culture? I'm a newly minted 2Lt from USAFA (who was very sad that you couldn't come to our graduation) heading for pilot training. I would absolutely love to fly fighters but I'm worried about the culture among fighter pilots. Basically what I mean is I've heard that it's full of macho, cocky, blustery, type A people who would drive me insane if I was around them all day. Is there much or any truth to this?

afthunderbirds1 karma

Congrats to you and the Class of 2013! Where are you going to UPT at? I don't think your worries about fighter pilot attitudes are fully correct. The best fighter pilots, the Weapons School Graduates live by the mantra to be humble, credible and approachable. Look me up on the global and we can chat some more!

pick-austin11 karma

I am a teenager looking into ly futur and I am interested in being a fighter pilot, could you tell me the pros and cons of being a fighter pilot and is there anything I should do to prepare?

afthunderbirds2 karma

Pro: You get to fly some really great aircraft, you train to protect your country and keep the soldiers on the ground safe, it's a lot of fun!

Con: You have to study a lot!

To prepare: Do well in school! Get the best possible grades and learn about all the subjects. Participate in sports. Look for leadership opportunities in school, athletics and in your community.

Zigmata1 karma

So are you one of the pilots I was shaking my fast at for flying over me all the time whilst I'm working on our towers at Creech?

afthunderbirds2 karma

Was the jet red, white and blue? Then yes.

afthunderbirds1 karma

But I'm pretty much only looking at Boss so I don't see fist shaking unless we are in a left hand turn and I can look down through Boss and see people on the ground.

nohandsnick1 karma

Major Jensen,

As a USAF officer, how do you envision the future of the force?

I have to assume you worked out of Osan and provided ground support in Iraq... do you think the future of the force lies in manned tactical aviation or exotic ISR/Strike platforms? What's your opinion?

Thank you Major!

afthunderbirds3 karma

That's a good question. It will be interesting to see how sequestration plays out. General Officers are concerned with the readiness of the force. The unmanned vehicles were an important link in Iraq, but manned fighters/bombers that move fast were an important part of the war as well.

RobertFlobert1 karma

What's your closest call?

afthunderbirds1 karma

The Bomb Burst cross we are about 20 feet apart all at the same place in the same time going 4 different directions. That's a close call on purpose!

gundamsd20201 karma

So if they switched to an F-22 or F-35 would you be able to do more intense acrobatics? Or does the F-16 allow for more showmanship.

afthunderbirds1 karma

Good question. The diamond does precision formation flying. But, the solos demonstrate the power and capabilities of the aircraft before. The F-22 can do some pretty cool looking things. I enjoyed seeing the Raptor demo last year.

epicdonut431 karma


afthunderbirds2 karma

They teach new pilot training students about it at the Undergraduate Pilot training bases. There is a seat you sit in and it goes up rails about 15 feet in the air if I remember correctly. They also had us parasail behind a truck! We learned how to do the parachute landing fall, and hope you miss all the cactuses in West Texas!

kutabare_861 karma

Air Force always has the hottest women. Sincerely, The Marines

afthunderbirds2 karma

You are too kind. Semper Fi. My dad was (I mean IS) a Marine.

Tomatocake1 karma

As your surname suggests, you are of scandinavian roots. You even look danish.

Are you danish?

If yes, do you have family in Denmark, that you keep in touch with?

Have you ever been to Denmark? What did you think of it? Culture wise it's very different..

What are your political views? Thinking military budget, welfare, how veterans are treated after they come home, etc.


afthunderbirds2 karma

My maiden name is Bong. My husband's family is Danish, and I am of Welsh and German descent.

smilingasIsay1 karma

So...reading the title I somehow thought this was about Thunderbirds the TV show, I feel silly

afthunderbirds3 karma

Thundercats? :)

OmahaVike1 karma

wisconsin?? Go Vikes! ;#)

afthunderbirds1 karma

I grew up in Western WI, really close to Minneapolis and may have worn some purple and gold on an off day but that was a long time ago. You gotta love Aaron Rodgers and the Packers!!

rebull3971 karma

if a civilion wanted to go for a ride in an f16 what is the easiest way to go about doing it? through someone in the military or through a civilion pilot?

afthunderbirds1 karma

We get to fly a few select civilians when we are on the road. We are allowed to fly people who have something of an audience- people they can share their experience with. So many people can benefit from that one show. Like a local news reporter who will put it on television or in the news paper the next day. We also have a "Hometown Hero" program where we fly someone who did something great in the community. For instance we flew a fire fighter in Gary, IN last year who saved a young boy from a burning building. It's great to honor those who sacrifice for the community!

tsr61 karma

Where is your favorite place in Wisconsin to visit?

afthunderbirds1 karma

I am from River Falls and I love it there. There is no better place/time to be than Wisconsin in the Fall, I love it when the trees are in full color!

BloodAngel851 karma

Do you miss performing (sorry if that's not the correct term) now that the Thunderbirds are grounded? (I'm stationed at Nellis and loved seeing them practice)

afthunderbirds1 karma

We sure do miss flying. It requires a great deal of intense concentration and is a pretty good workout too somedays and it's nice to "exercise" while we practice/perform.

UntergrundDrone1 karma

I honestly love your team's performances at air shows. But I've always wondered, what runs through your head when you see all the people below just watching?

afthunderbirds2 karma

We are generally very focused on what we are doing. We fly together and practice a lot so we know each other very well. Sometimes you can tell if someone is having a good or bad day just from the way they make their radio calls, so we focus on what we are doing and listen to what is happening between the Diamond pilots and the Solo pilots. Sometimes I wonder what people are doing and hope they are enjoying the show. BUT, we are always thinking a step or two ahead as well to be able to execute precision passes.

russianwhore1 karma

How did you dicide to choose this profession? Are you from military family? How did your male team treat you? Did you bear sexual harrasment? How possible is it to make military career in western society? What kind of requirements is it nessesary to satify to join an army for women in US? Untill which age can you serve in arny?

afthunderbirds1 karma

My grandparents and dad were veterans of WWII and Vietnam and my father was a pilot. I was intrigued when I saw a movie with an airplane flying around the clouds and always knew I wanted to be in the military. But the Thunderbirds had a big impact on me deciding to become a fighter pilot. My teammates treat me normally and I never felt very much different for being a female in my other squadrons. Since being on the Thunderbirds I get more attention for it. I do not bear sexual harassment. I think it's important for women to set boundaries. If someone says something inappropriate it is easy to say "i don't appreciate that" or "you crossed a line with that one". And I have never had any problems and only ever had to say those things a few times. I would talk to a recruiter about joining the Army. http://www.goarmy.com/locate-a-recruiter.html

tilley771 karma

If you had to fly a fighter plane that is not in the US inventory which one would you want to fly?

Check six

afthunderbirds1 karma

Can I go old school and say P-38 or P-51? They aren't in the inventory anymore...

smom1 karma

My 9 year old saw the Thunderbirds in Ft Worth last year and now wants to be a stunt pilot. Not sure if I should thank you for that or not. :)

Thanks for your service and stay safe!

afthunderbirds2 karma

Be careful, those dreams can really take you places :)

Sharebear_9221 karma


afthunderbirds2 karma

Thank you for your service!

TooManyStories1 karma

It has to be asked; how do you think the Thunderbirds compare to the Red Arrows?

afthunderbirds2 karma

I have to look at the Red Arrows, I haven't seen them perform yet. But I think all formation demo pilots share a common bond!

Stovokor_X1 karma

In regards to similar aircraft capability of F-16, what other nations are considered to have top echelon pilots other then USA ?

afthunderbirds2 karma

F-16.net has some great info on pilots and their hours. I have flown with F-16 pilots from Norway and Denmark. I got to fly with many fighter pilots from NATO countries as a T-38 Instructor at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, TX. They were all experienced and competent pilots and I have a lot of respect for those that are flying in their second language.

ambiewhoa1 karma

I grew up in the panhandle of Florida going to Thunderbirds and Blue Angels shows, and I was shocked to see this AMA as sometimes I really miss a good ol' airshow. My dad worked on airplanes in the Navy and I think the only time he was really fulfilled was when he was around planes, so he loved taking us to the museums and shows. I hope that the shows start up again so I can take him to one someday! No question, just thanks for sharing your experiences with us!

afthunderbirds2 karma

You are welcome. We are hoping to be back in the air in the Fall.

neuro-kinetics1 karma

How good is the F-16 simulator you use compared to the real thing?

afthunderbirds1 karma

We can link the simulators together and we actually got to fly our 4 ship together. At first it is CRAZY! I "hit" boss on the takeoff, flew about 1/2 a mile when I was supposed to be at about 2 feet. But we adapted to the differences and got some descent training out of it, not nearly as good as the real thing but better than nothing!

jay-eye-elle-elle-1 karma

How do you handle casual, perhaps unintentional, sexism that's presumably present in an extremely male-dominated industry? Is it a problem you've experienced with your immediate team? Basically, how do you not sweat the dumb stuff, but still make sure to get the respect you deserve and expect?

Ps. Sorry, I'm being nosy and very curious. Tanks for doing this. It's awesome to see a kickass lady around here :)

afthunderbirds1 karma

You are right "don't sweat the dumb stuff". I am a combat fighter pilot with 200 hours combat, 1000+ instructing in pilot training, 1000+ in the F-16 and nearly 3000 over all. I think that speaks for itself. I don't look for people who might slight me for my gender, I just do my best at all times because that's what I do (and that's what most of my AF co-workers do, too).

ob21 karma

As an Air Force, which would you rather have: 10 F22s, 13 F35s, or 55 F16s? They would cost about the same (about $1.5B)

afthunderbirds1 karma

Good question. I am a ways in my career from being presented with all the information to make a decision on that one.

Nilum11 karma

How long can I live on nothing but peanut butter and water?

afthunderbirds1 karma

4ever? I think I could on almond butter.

yaaaaay_beer1 karma

My grandfather was a fighter pilot and flew in three wars (WWII, Korea, Vietnam) because he was crazy/badass. He got in trouble several times for "trick" flying when it was inappropriate, and actually trained the Thunderbirds at the time. We have a mounted joystick from one of his planes because it came off in flight and he still landed the plane safely - crazy, crazy man. No question, just wanted to say you're awesome and he'd be proud. Carry on.

afthunderbirds1 karma

That is awesome! I would like to know his name if you don't mind putting it on here so I can look him up. Sounds like he would have been a great guy to sit and have a beer or two with and listen to stories!

nionvox1 karma

As a fellow lady that wanted to be a fighter pilot: AAAAH THAT SHIT IS AWESOME YOU ARE SO COOL :D

afthunderbirds2 karma

Thanks ;)

agt681 karma

Hi Major! I want to say thank you for serving because sometimes people don't realize that you guys can be combat ready pretty quick and deployed if needed. I have a few questions. My first one is what's it like hitting full afterburner on takeoff? My second is how is the Air Force? I'm considering joining (junior in high school) after college to pursue flying. What is it like? What was your experience? Also, is there a reason you guys fly the F-16 versus the F-15?

afthunderbirds1 karma

I love lighting the afterburner on takeoff! It pushes you back in the seat a bit and we sit at a 30 degree recline so it's kind of like a sit-up. When we takeoff for the Thunderbird show we normally do a loop on takeoff so we have 4 aircraft 3 feet apart lighting all 4 afterburners at the same time. It's pretty great!

I recommend the Air Force to anyone! I have enjoyed my time here and got to see and do some amazing things. I recommend looking at the Air Force Academy if you haven't already. academyadmissions.com

I speculate that we are flying the F-16 because it is less expensive to operate, we only have 1 engine and they have two.

[deleted]0 karma


afthunderbirds3 karma

If I had a nickel....

HighShowsForLife-1 karma


How come most of the shows last year and the year before, and the year before that you guys only do strictly low shows. Are you guys afraid of High Shows? If you could remove clouds would you? You said you fly close as "18 inches" I beg a defer. The Blues fly tighter then you guys. Well. Sucks to see you guys grounded. Hopefully the Blues will come back before you guys do. Do you guys shine bright like a diamond?

Blues For Life

1 Fan

High Shows For Life Saaaan

afthunderbirds4 karma

I appreciate your team loyalty! I recently learned from my step-dad that I saw the Blues when I was a kid, but didn't remember it at all. True story. I saw the T-birds fly and that made me want to be an AF fighter pilot. We do fly at 18" but it takes more training to get to that point so you see that at the end of the season. The F-16 and the F-18 handle differently and that's why you see subtle differences in our formations and maybe even maneuvers. Shine bright!!

BluesFlyHighShows-4 karma

The Blue Angels are the Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron. Even with a small overcast they still will conduct a high show and make it look great. Why is it that one cloud in the sky 10 miles away will cause you guys to do a low or flat show? The thunderbirds say they're better and even you being one KNOW they can't be.

afthunderbirds2 karma

Hahahaha. Flying in clouds in close formation stinks whether you are in a red, white and blue air plane or a blue and yellow one... Like I said before. Apparently when I was younger I saw the Blues, and I would swear to you that I have never seen them before, I think my step-dad might be lying to me except he never lies. I saw the Tbirds and that started a career that let to the Air Force Academy and combat in the mighty F-16... I applaud you for your loyalty, but you are on reddit with a Thunderbird ;)