Thunderbirds to begin 4 days’ joint training with Blue Angels

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will be sharing their winter training facility in El Centro with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds for the next four days. COURTESY PHOTO

EL CENTRO — The U.S. military’s two premier flight demonstration squadrons will both be here in the sun’s winter home for four days, starting today.

The U.S. Air Force Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, are due to land at Naval Air Facility El Centro at 10:30 a.m. to begin what a press release described “an information exchange … to share squadron best practices and lessons learned before both teams begin their respective 2020 show seasons.” The Air Force team will be here until Saturday.

There are no scheduled performances during this exchange however, training flights with similar profiles to the air show routine may be conducted in accordance with annual training objectives. Each team is currently in the middle of their winter training cycles.

“I am incredibly excited to share the world class training facilities here in El Centro with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds,” said Cmdr. Brian Kesselring, the Blue Angels commanding officer and flight leader. “Our time in El Centro is crucial for transitioning in new pilots, training support and maintenance personnel, and preparing the aircraft for the high operating tempo of the air show season. This is a phenomenal opportunity to meet and integrate with our U.S. Air Force counterparts and share best practices. Undoubtedly the interaction between our teams this week will lead to safer and more effective flight demonstrations.”

The last time the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds performed together was at the Joint Base Andrews Air and Space Expo. May 11-12, 2019. The two teams are not scheduled to perform together during the 2020 show season.

“Training with the Blue Angels, on the ground and in the air, is a very unique and valuable experience,” said Lt. Col. John Caldwell, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds commander and leader. “Our squadrons have a similar mission set and share the same goal of providing an impeccable demonstration for our upcoming shows during the 2020 season. We deeply appreciate the expertise and operational knowledge the Blue Angels bring to our shared mission and look forward to enhancing our operations from this joint exchange.”

The Blue Angels are scheduled to perform 55 flight demonstrations at 29 locations across the United States and Canada. The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase the teamwork and professionalism of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach. Since 1946, the Blue Angels have performed for more than 496 million fans.

This marks the Thunderbirds 67th year representing the U.S. Air Force. The Thunderbirds in 2020 are scheduled to perform 67 demonstrations at 35 locations across the United States and Canada. The Thunderbirds mission is to recruit, retain and inspire past, present and future Airmen while showcasing the pride, precision and professionalism of America’s Airmen.

For more information about the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds, including the 2020 air show schedule, visit and


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