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Thunderbirds soar into Hill Air Force Base ahead of weekend show


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HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The speed, precision and power.

It's enough to make even the grumpiest person crack a smile.

This weekend, they will be bringing people lots of smiles.

The Air Force Thunderbirds will be highlighting the Warriors Over Wasatch Air Show at Hill Air Force Base on Saturday and Sunday. Thursday afternoon, the team landed at Hill Air Force Base but did some practice maneuvers first.

"It's a beautiful place to fly. The mountains make it challenging, but that's a good thing. We train for that," said Lt. Col. Justin Elliott, commander of the Air Force Thunderbirds.

The team is one of the most technically challenging aerial aerobatics teams in the world. The Thunderbirds were set to perform at Hill in 2020, but that show was canceled because of COVID.

Hill has the show every two years and it gave the Thunderbirds time to come up with a brand-new show.

"We actually worked a little bit with Disney on this show to make it more of a show that builds up to a crescendo and actually hits you a little bit here in the emotions," Elliott said.

Even though the pilots get most of the attention, it takes an entire team on the ground to set up the show for fans. There are 135 people on the Thunderbirds team. Many of them will be a part of the new show.

"So that first five minutes, as we march out, is very precisely choreographed ground show so we can show off the maintenance precision that we have on this team as well," Elliott said.

All in all, it's a show meant to have fun at a time when we all know we can use it.

"I think we can all see the pandemic shattered us a bit and the United States is in a bit of a divided time right now. Nothing unifies us more than a beacon of excellence that we can rally around, something we can feel and something we can get behind," Elliott said. "That's what we're trying to provide for the United States this year."

KSL will stream both shows on Saturday and Sunday live on the KSL TV app and at KSLTV.com.

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Alex Cabrero

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