· Three Pilots with Ties to Central Florida
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 7, 2020) – The world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will perform the flyover for the 62nd annual DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, Feb. 16 at Daytona International Speedway, the prestigious season-opening event to the NASCAR Cup Series (FOX, FOX Deportes, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
The flyover will mark the 10th consecutive year, and 11th total, that “America’s Ambassadors in Blue” – officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron – will showcase their world-class talent and precise choreography flying their signature “Delta” formation over the “World Center of Racing” at the end of the National Anthem for “The Great American Race.”
“We’re honored to have the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds be a part of the DAYTONA 500 pre-race ceremonies,” Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile said. “For both the thousands of fans in attendance and the millions more watching on television, the sight of the USAF Thunderbirds soaring over the race track at the end of the National Anthem is one of the most exhilarating and treasured moments of the DAYTONA 500 experience.”
“We’re excited to open our 2020 demonstration season with NASCAR race fans at the Daytona 500”, said Lt. Col. John Caldwell, Thunderbird commander and lead pilot. “We look forward to showcasing the pride, precision and professionalism the 685,000 total force Airmen of the U.S. Air Force employ every day around the world.”
The Thunderbirds feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons, the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighter aircraft. Assigned to Air Combat Command, the squadron is composed of 12 officers and more than 120 enlisted personnel serving in nearly 30 Air Force job specialties. They have a rigorous schedule, performing hour-long demonstrations across the United States nearly 35 weekends between March and November.
Since the unit’s inception in 1953, more than 350 million people in all 50 states and more than 60 countries have witnessed the distinctive red, white and blue jets in thousands of official aerial demonstrations.
The flight demonstration team is made up of Lt. Col. John Caldwell, Thunderbird No. 1, Thunderbird commander and lead pilot; Maj. Trevor Aldridge, Thunderbird No. 2, Left Wing pilot; Capt. Michael Brewer, Thunderbird No. 3, Right Wing pilot; Capt. Zane Taylor, Thunderbird No. 4, Slot Pilot; Maj. Michelle Curran, Thunderbird No. 5, Lead Solo; and Capt. Kyle Oliver, Thunderbird No. 6, Opposing Solo.
Three of the members of the team have strong Florida ties. Both Caldwell and Taylor are natives of Orlando and Brewer is a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which is next door to Daytona International Speedway.
Tickets for the 2020 DAYTONA 500 and all DAYTONA Speedweeks Presented By AdventHealth events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest speedway news.
About the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
The official mission of the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron is to plan and present precision aerial maneuvers to exhibit the capabilities of modern, high-performance aircraft and demonstrate the high degree of professional skill required to operate those aircraft. The missions, objectives and goals of the Thunderbirds can be summarized into one word: ambassadors. The team is a group of traveling spokespersons for the Air Force, demonstrating a clear example of America’s air power. Performing at public venues tells the Air Force story, often to people in communities that have little interaction with America’s military.
About Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway is the home of “The Great American Race” – the DAYTONA 500. Though the season-opening NASCAR Cup Series event garners most of the attention – as well as the largest audience in motorsports – the approximately 500-acre motorsports complex boasts the most diverse schedule of racing on the globe, thus earning it the title of “World Center of Racing.” In addition to eight major weekends of racing activity, rarely a week goes by that the Speedway grounds are not used for events that include civic and social gatherings, car shows, photo shoots, production vehicle testing and police motorcycle training.