On February 16, the 2020 NASCAR season kicks off with the Daytona 500. And, what better way to start “The Great American Race” than with a flyover courtesy of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds? It doesn’t get much more American that that!
Well, for the 10th straight year and the 11th year overall, the USAF Thunderbirds (officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron) will be flying in the “Delta” formation ahead of the inaugural race at Daytona International Speedway.
Air Force Thunderbirds to Perform Daytona 500 Flyover
“We’re honored to have the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds be a part of the Daytona 500 pre-race ceremonies,” Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile said, according to Speed Sport. “For both the thousands of fans in attendance and the millions more watching on television, the sight of the USAF Thunderbirds soaring over the race track at the end of the National Anthem is one of the most exhilarating and treasured moments of the Daytona 500 experience.”
Lt. Col. John Caldwell, the Thunderbird commander and lead pilot, added, “We’re excited to open our 2020 demonstration season with NASCAR race fans at the Daytona 500. We look forward to showcasing the pride, precision, and professionalism the 685,000 total force Airmen of the U.S. Air Force employ every day around the world.”
Founded in 1953, the USAF Thunderbirds currently feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons. Aside from Caldwell, the Thunderbird flight team is also made up of Maj. Trevor Aldridge (Thunderbird No. 2, Left Wing pilot), Capt. Michael Brewer (Thunderbird No. 3, Right Wing pilot), Capt. Zane Taylor (Thunderbird No. 4, Slot Pilot), Maj. Michelle Curran (Thunderbird No. 5, Lead Solo), and Capt. Kyle Oliver (Thunderbird No. 6, Opposing Solo).