DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB (KGUN9-TV) - Good weekend weather should make for a great air show at DM.
The US Air Force Thunderbirds arrived Thursday. They will be the grand finale of the every-other-year air show. It's a show the Air Force expects to attract a quarter million people for its two-day run.
The Thunderbirds do like to make a flashy entrance. They streak over the base, and make some of the tricky maneuvers they’ll make in the air show.
But there's another reason they make pass after pass when they arrive. They're sizing up the air field where they will perform this weekend.
Major Alexander Goldfein flies Thunderbird 3.
"That was checking out the airfield. We like to call it a site survey where we break off and everybody looks for the local references. Pretty easy show site here. Things are flat for the most part, the mountains are far enough away not to be a big factor but we're looking for towers, just the lay of the land, rising and sloping terrain so we can get ready to do a good show. Because most of what we're doing is visual."
It takes that sort of precision to fly like a Thunderbird. Major Goldfein says he often flies just eight feet away from the jet next to him, and that's usually at 500 miles an hour.
"We just do things a little bit different, fly a little closer with a few larger numbers of aircraft but nothing too crazy. It's all the same concepts. We just refine it into a show over months and months of practicing and get used to flying close to one another."
Other planes are also starting to arrive for the air show. Including a B-1 bomber and F-22 fighters.
By the time gates open to the public at 9am Saturday the base will have a long list of planes parked to view up close or ready to fly.
There are some safety rules to keep in mind:
Large bags, backpacks, coolers and camera bags are prohibited. Ladies purses should be no larger than a small clutch. You can not bring any container larger than four ounces. There will be free water available on base, and beverages available for purchase.
For more information, visit DM’s air show website.