In support of Airshow London in Ontario, Canada, several American military aerial demonstration teams based at Selfridge. Pictured is an F-16 part of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

In support of Airshow London in Ontario, Canada, several American military aerial demonstration teams based at Selfridge. Pictured is an F-16 part of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

Photo by Alex Szwarc


Military demo teams base at Selfridge

Fly in Canadian air show

By: Alex Szwarc | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published September 17, 2020

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Selfridge wasn’t able to host an air show this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it still could support military aircraft for a show in Canada.

On Sept. 9, six F-16s, part of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, landed at the Air National Guard base in support of Airshow London in Ontario, Canada.

Other military aerial demonstration teams temporarily based at Selfridge included the F-35 Lightning II, F-16 Viper, A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-22 Raptor, C-17 Globemaster and the U.S. Army Golden Knights.

All teams performed in the air show Sept. 12-13.

“Due to Canada’s COVID-19 federal regulations and exposure mitigations, the U.S. demonstration teams will fly back and forth from Selfridge to the London International Airport, negating the need for overnight stays in London hotels,” a press release states.

The Thunderbirds, formed in 1953, are based at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada, and consider themselves “America’s Ambassadors in Blue.”

Maj. Trevor Aldridge is the left wing pilot for the squadron, flying the No. 2 jet.

He said that, normally, the team participates in over 30 shows a year, but this year, with many events being canceled due to COVID-19, it might be in five.  

“Fortunately, we’ve been able to do other things this year such as our America Strong mission, flying over frontline workers to help support them,” Aldridge said. “We’ve been able to do things outside of the traditional air show circuit.”

Aldridge, who has been a Thunderbirds member for just over one year, said his arrival at Selfridge marked his first time in Michigan.

“We’re excited to be here to be able to support Canada’s only air show this year,” he said.

Aldridge explained that the level of training required to be on the Thunderbirds depends on an individual’s background. The training process typically begins in late-October and goes through March.

“A couple guys on the team are new this year and are not F-16 people by trade,” he said. “I never flew a F-16 before joining the team, so I had to go through a transition course to learn to fly the F-16.”

When asked what the most enjoyable part of the job is, Aldridge said that, from a professional perspective, he enjoys the challenge of flying.

“It’s very hard to fly as close as we do and well,” he said. “No sortie is perfect, and the ability to continuously work harder to get better and fly closer and tighter and more precise without any errors is a challenge I enjoy.”

He also enjoys talking to folks about the Air Force and his position.

For the Thunderbirds, some of the different formations seen in an aerial demonstration include four planes flying in a diamond formation with two soloists flying on either side of the diamond.

“When a soloist joins the diamond and forms a triangle, it’s called delta, where the diamond runs around, doing loops and rolls and changing formations,” Aldridge said. “Soloists perform a high-impact F-16 capability, where the diamond performs more graceful flying.”

Each show is about 35 minutes.

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