Duluth aviation show lands Air Force's Thunderbirds


The skies over Duluth next summer will feature some iconic American flyers that are both birds and planes.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will make the only Upper Midwest appearance of their 2016 schedule when they perform at the Duluth Air and Aviation Show on July 9 and 10, organizers announced Monday.

KDAL reports the Thunderbirds last visited Minnesota's biggest air show in 2010 (although they did take part in Mankato's show last summer).

We are one day closer to the 2016 show season! Which show site are you excited for us to be at? Photo taken by SrA Zafar! #airforce #afthunderbirds #military #usaf #sunset #f16

A photo posted by U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds (@afthunderbirds) on Dec 15, 2015 at 9:59pm PST

Air show president Ryan Kern says a "very large turnout" is expected for the event at Duluth International Airport, the News Tribune reports, and a transportation consultant is developing a new plan for parking and a shuttle service.

Other acts for the show will be announced later, but tickets are available now.

Who are the Thunderbirds?

Officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds got their start in 1953, just six years after the Air Force was formed.

Nicknamed "America's Ambassadors in Blue," the Thunderbirds put on hour-long demonstrations that show audiences what the country's fighter pilots and their F-16s can do. As a page on their website puts it: "As the jets take to the skies and fly only a few feet from wingtip to wingtip, the crowd gets a glimpse of the awesome skills and capabilities that all fighter pilots must possess."

In addition to flying in formation, some of the pilots also perform solo routines.

The Thunderbirds open their 2016 season in Florida on Feb. 21 with a flyover before the Daytona 500 stock car race.

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