In 1947, while the jet age was still in its infancy, military aviation was hurtled into the future with the creation of the U.S. Air Force as a separate service. Just six years later, on May 25, 1953, the Air Force’s official air demonstration team, designated the 2600th Air Demonstration Unit, was activated at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The unit adopted the name “Thunderbirds,” influenced in part by the strong Native American culture and folklore from the southwestern United States where Luke Air Force Base is located.
Millions of people have witnessed the Thunderbirds demonstrations, and in turn, they’ve seen the pride, professionalism and dedication of the hundreds of thousands of Airmen serving at home and abroad. Each year brings another opportunity for the team to represent those who deserve the most credit: the everyday, hard-working Airmen voluntarily serving America and defending freedom.