Welcome to the USAF Thunderbirds Alumni Association
Alumni membership is extended to all who served with the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron “Thunderbirds” in the capacity of officer or enlisted, who wore the patch and have been certified as worthy by their Commander/Leader.
Click here to learn more about the Thunderbird Alumni Association.
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Announcing the 68th Annual Thunderbird Reunion
The Thunderbirds Alumni Association and the United States Air Force Thunderbirds cordially invite current Thunderbirds, alumni, honoraries, TBAA associates, friends and their families to gather for our annual reunion.
When: November 11 -14, 2021
Where: South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa
Las Vegas, Nevada
For more information, click the link below.
USAF Thunderbirds Alumni Association Since 1975
The Air Force’s official air demonstration team, designated the 3600th USAF Air Demonstration Unit/Flight, was activated on May 25, 1953.
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The TBAA Way
The Thunderbirds Alumni Association exists to promote the comradeship of former and current members of the U. S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron “The Thunderbirds” and to ensure that “Once A Thunderbird, Always A Thunderbird” is a continued commitment from each member and that excellence remains the benchmark by which we measure all we do.
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News & Events
Once a Thunderbird, Always a Thunderbird.
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Alumni membership is extended to all who served with the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron ” Thunderbirds” in the capacity of officer or enlisted, who wore the patch and have been certified as worthy by their Commander/Leader.
What Our Members Say
“We shared stories of past and present, with no other intention than to strengthen the Thunderbirds. It was gratifying to see the bond between all of us get stron- ger while we re-energized our Thunderbird roots. “
“The idea of continuing our belief that “Once a Thunderbird, Always a Thunderbird” is something to be proud of. In addition, we do have a lot of fun getting together as members of certain year teams, or collectively, at the reunion.”
(This feature is reserved for those alumni who wish to share special, personal experiences with our family . . . experiences that speak to who we are and in whose lives we made a difference. – Ed)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Nostalgia is a force that is hard to resist. I find myself daydreaming as we used to do on cargo plane flights around the world. You can look out those porthole windows at landscape from 20,000 feet for only so long.
Yesterday, today and tomorrow came together faster than I would have imagined, in this way: My father was a civilian pilot at the beginning of WWII. He was told his greatest value to the country would be as an instructor of military pilots. We moved from Pennsylvania to Missouri in 1942, where Army pilots were being trained in open cockpit biplanes called JN3s. That was Parks Air College. A greater shortage of instructors existed in Navy and Marine training in Waco, Texas. We moved there in late 1942. The Navy and Marine pilots were trained in J-3s to PT-19s before being sent overseas. Most of these pilots found their way to Iwo Jima, in one way or another. In 3 years, my Dad taught 1,800 pilots to fly for the Army, Navy and Marines. After the war, he managed an airport, instructed civilians and became a corporate flying foreman, all part of another story.
My eyes failed all the flight test requirements for the Air Force in the 50s. To stay as close to the wild blue as possible, my military career consisted of Helicopter Mechanics School, Flight Line Crew, H-21s, F-84 Crew Chief and F-89J Crew Chief. I had a 12 aircraft line of L19s in Texas that I crew-chiefed for in a primary flight school.
I had been around aircraft all my life, even logged some student flight time after I was 16. The astigmatism in my eye, at that time, was not correctable, and I could not even land a Link trainer.
With my background before and after entering the service, it was only natural that I was assigned to the Transit Alert. Lucky for me, it was at Nellis. Then I was off to the Air Demonstration Squadron in only 6 months. (At that time, they did the calling.) From enlistment to T-Bird in 18-1/2 months!
My tour with the Thunderbirds is not the message of this piece, so maybe some of those details at another time. Enough to say I was in serviceman’s heaven for each and every day of those 2 years. With transfer from the T-Birds back to Transit Alert, my tour of duty was up in 5 months. Sayonara.
A few odd jobs after the service (hard work, little pay) I landed in the structural steel field making metal skeletons of buildings to be covered with finishing materials and roofs and made into homes, offices, bridges, skyscrapers, malls, schools and strip centers.
In just 5 years after leaving the Thunderbirds, it was my privilege to prepare the drawings of the structural steel for my company’s part of the contract to build the Vertical Assembly Building, that great big house at Cape Canaveral, Florida, where the rockets and space vehicles for our country’s space program are assembled.
My message? One generation guys, that is all it took. From biplanes to space. That is where I came from, that is where I went.
– David Hahn (Flight Engineer 57-59)
PROUD TO BE A THUNDERBIRD
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11130 Rodeo Ln
Riverview, FL 33579