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October 22, 2014

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Thunderbirds announce new additions to officer corps

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Steve Marcus

Members of the Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, train at Nellis Air Force Base Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013.

Thunderbirds

F-16 jets from the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron Thunderbirds perform during their annual approval show Thursday at Nellis Air Force Base. Launch slideshow »

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The USAF Thunderbirds flyover above the Strip with 2012 Miss America Laura Kaeppeler for the 2013 Miss America Pageant on Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Five officers have been selected to become members of the Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force’s top jet demonstration team.

The Air Force announced the appointments, which will be effective for the 2014 demonstration season, last week.

The Thunderbirds are based at Nellis Air Base in Las Vegas.

The selected officers are:

• Lt. Col. Matthew Bradley, 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron director of operations from Tyndall AFB, Fla., will become Thunderbird No. 1, the squadron's commander and lead pilot. His responsibilities will include commanding a force of more than 100 enlisted service members and 11 commissioned officers assigned to the Thunderbirds. Bradley replaces Lt. Col. Greg Moseley.

• Maj. Scott Petz, an F-16 pilot stationed at Nellis, will become Thunderbird No. 3, the team's right wing pilot.

• Capt. Ryan Wick, an F-22 pilot currently stationed at Langley AFB, Va., will become Thunderbird No. 6, the team's opposing solo pilot.

• Capt. Joshua Larsen, an F-16 pilot currently stationed at Shaw AFB, S.C., will become Thunderbird No. 8, the team's advance pilot and narrator. The team is still reviewing applications for the position of Thunderbird 9, the team's flight surgeon.

The 12 officer positions on the team are two-year tours of duty. Position openings are staggered, allowing the squadron to maintain continuity of experience and leadership. In odd-numbered years, Thunderbird Nos. 2, 4, 7, 10, 11, and 12 are replaced.

The Thunderbirds scheduled about 60 demonstrations this year but canceled them because of the federal budget sequestration cuts.

So, for the remainder of the 2013 demonstration season, the Thunderbirds will increase focus on supporting Air Force recruiting priorities. They also plan to increase support to the 99th Air Base Wing’s community relations program at Nellis AFB.

“We’ve always had a robust community relations effort; until this issue is resolved, we’ll continue to engage the public as best we can,” Moseley said.

The year 2014 will mark the Thunderbirds' 61st season.

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