Thunderbirds Milestones

Included in the newly issued list of officer selections for the Thunderbirds 2009 season are the first Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve pilots to join the elite air demonstration group. Maj. Derek Routt, a Guard F-15C pilot stationed at Nellis AFB, Nev., will become the Thunderbirds operations officer, serving as second in command, flying in aircraft No. 7. And Maj. Sean Gustafson, a Reserve F-16 pilot stationed at Homestead ARB, Fla., will take over as the team’s slot pilot in Thunderbird No. 4 during next year’s flying season, which begins in March 2009. “We’ve had ANG members on the team for about 10 years serving in non-flying roles,” Thunderbirds spokesman SSgt. Russ Martin, told the Daily Report June 3. “But Maj. Routt is the first ANG pilot for the team.” Similarly, Gustafson is the squadron’s first Reserve pilot, he confirmed. For the full list of 2009 officer selections, click here. The Thunderbirds are currently in the midst of their 2008 demonstration season, the 55th year that the team has performed at air shows around the country.