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Thunderbirds will fly in Westmoreland air show

| Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, 10:00 a.m.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds precision jet team will perform at the Westmoreland County Air Show on April 27-28 at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.

“It's a little early for us to hold an air show, but we're really looking forward to it,” said airport authority Chairman Donald Rossi.

The jet team last appeared at the air show in 2001.

The authority resurrected the air show in 2011 after a 10-year hiatus when Spirit Airlines began offering commercial service at the facility near Latrobe.

In 2012, the Navy's Blue Angels jet team performed, drawing an estimated 75,000 spectators during the two-day event in June.

The Thunderbirds flying unit is officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron and is based at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

It will kick off its 60th anniversary season by performing the opening fly-over for NASCAR's Daytona 500 on Feb. 24.

The Thunderbirds date to 1953, when the team flew the straight-winged F-84G Thunderjets. This year will mark the 31st season the squadron has performed in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, one of the Air Force's most reliable and combat-proven fighter aircraft.

The Thunderbirds unit is composed of six demonstration pilots, two support pilots, four support officers, three civilians and more than 100 enlisted people serving in more than two dozen Air Force job specialties.

According to the team's website, the Thunderbirds' aerial demonstration includes about 40 maneuvers, varying from formation flying to solo routines. The entire show, including the opening ground ceremony, lasts about one hour.

Further details of the show, including additional acts, will be released at a later date, according to airport officials.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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