NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. â€” The commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Gilmary M. Hostage III, has officially selected the officers who will be joining the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds for the 2013 demonstration season.
The Thunderbirds team, officially known as the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, retains 12 officer positions, with each serving a two-year tour of duty. By design, the position openings are staggered, so the squadron maintains continuity of experience and leadership. In odd-numbered years, Thunderbird Nos. 2, 4, 7, 10, 11, and 12 are replaced.
Capt. Joshua Boudreaux, currently assigned to Aviano Air Base, Italy, will become Thunderbird No. 2, the squadronâ€™s left wing pilot. He will fly as close as 18 inches from the wingtip of the No. 1 jet during air shows, demonstrating the teamwork and precision of Americaâ€™s Air Force. Boudreaux will replace Capt. Ryan Riley.
Maj. Curtis Dougherty, currently assigned to Seymour-Johnson AFB, N.C., will become Thunderbird No. 4, slot pilot. Like Boudreax, Dougherty will also fly in close formation with the other demonstration pilots, just inches below the belly of the No. 1 aircraft. Dougherty will replace Capt. Nicholas Holmes.
Capt. Jason Curtis, currently stationed at Luke AFB, Ariz., will become Thunderbird No. 6, the teamâ€™s opposing solo pilot. The solo pilots perform maneuvers that specifically showcase the extraordinary capabilities of the F-16. Capt. Blaine Jones, the current opposing solo pilot, will transition to the lead solo position in 2013, replacing Maj. J.R. Williams.
Maj. Tyler Ellison, currently stationed at Langley AFB, Va., will become Thunderbird No. 7, the teamâ€™s operations officer. His duties will include air space coordination, ground communication with the pilots in the air and safety observation. Ellison will replace Lt. Col. Jason Koltes.
Capt. Lucas Buckley, currently stationed here at Nellis AFB, will become Thunderbird No. 11, the squadronâ€™s maintenance officer. He will be responsible for the operational capability of 11 F-16 fighter jets and the management of more than 50 Airmen in various aircraft maintenance specialties. Buckley will replace Maj. Jason Moore.
Maj. Darrick Lee, currently stationed at Misawa AB, Japan, will become Thunderbird No. 12, the squadronâ€™s public affairs officer. He will assume the teamâ€™s extensive media relations, community relations and public relations programs. Lee will replace Maj. Kristin Haley.
For the position of Thunderbird No. 10, executive officer, the hiring process is delayed, pending the interview with a finalist currently deployed. Selection for that position is expected before August 2012.
â€œAfter interacting with all of the applicants for these jobs, what came to mind is that todayâ€™s Air Force has an excellent crop of leaders in the commissioned officer corps,â€ said Lt. Col. Greg Moseley, Thunderbirds commander and lead pilot. â€œItâ€™s difficult choosing between people who are more than capable of excelling in these positions. That said, I couldnâ€™t be happier with the individuals we chose to join us in this incredible and unique mission.â€
Each person and position is carefully selected based on the individualâ€™s record of performance, capabilities in their particular field and a demonstrated commitment to excellence that matches the Airmen the Thunderbirds Team represent every day.
This year marks the Thunderbirdsâ€™ 59th season as the Air Forceâ€™s premier jet demonstration team. From mid-March till mid-November, the team travels around the country and abroad, representing the integrity, selfless service and excellence embodied by American Airmen everywhere.