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Air Force Thunderbirds arrive in Dayton

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The US Air Force Thunderbirds arrive at Dayton International Airport ahead of the weekend's Centerpoint Energy Dayton Air Show. (Dayton 24/7 Now photo)

DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF) -- This weekend you'll see these F-16 Fighting Falcon jets at speeds more than 300 miles per hour and they are the anchor to what officials say will be an incredible return to the Dayton Air Show.

“We went to the drawing board on redesigning the show,” Major Zane Taylor, Right Wing for the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds said.

The Thunderbirds are in Dayton and ready after a cancellation to performances in 2020.

“The maneuvers that you see in the show are obviously flown with more aircraft and it's going to be with a little sprinkle of showmanship,” Major Taylor said. “But they are the formations and maneuvers you would see in combat.”

Getting a chance to shine this year is Beavercreek High School graduate, Major Kyle Oliver, performing in the Gem City for the first time.

“I grew up in the Air Force. My dad served honorably for 20 years,” Major Oliver, who is the Opposing Solo on the Thunderbirds said. “I kind of assumed I would follow in his footsteps. I really didn’t think there was anything else to do besides joining the Air Force.”

As a kid, he says he had been to airshows and watched ‘Top Gun' too many times but never took his flying dreams seriously.

“We came out to the show there in the summer of 2005 and that was the first time I really took it seriously,” Major Oliver said. “I looked up and I saw the team fly that day and that was the turning point where I said, ‘being a fighter pilot isn't some phase I'm going to grow out of. That’s something I want to do and dedicate myself to.’”

Major Oliver says he hopes to inspire kids in attendance for a new wave of air force pilots.

He adds he’ll have 30-40 family members in attendance this weekend and his fellow pilots aren’t letting forget it.

“It’s mostly the Michigan folks that I have to contend with on the team, we’ve got far too many of those for my taste,” Major Oliver joked. “They never let me forget that this is the hometown and to make sure that I’m on my best behavior, and I put on a good show this weekend for the hometown crowd.”


The 2021 show will be headlined by the US Air Force Thunderbirds on July 10 and 11. This is the 46th anniversary of the Dayton Air Show.


Air show organizers say this is a special year for the Thunderbirds in Dayton. Flying as the opposing solo in the Thunderbird No. 6 aircraft is Capt. Kyle Oliver, a Dayton native and an Ohio State University graduate.

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