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Thunderbird Team Looking for Maintainers

Thunderbird Team Looking for Maintainers

By Master Sgt. Danny L. Smith, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

Nellis AFB, Nevada -- (ACCNS) November 16, 2001 -- Have you ever thought about applying for a position with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds? Perhaps you let the idea pass because you’ve heard the selection process is so competitive.

European-Security Photo

I remember thinking the same thing when I was coming up through the ranks. Even though I considered myself to be a sharp troop, something held me back from applying for the team. It wasn’t until a Thunderbird team member called me up one day and encouraged me to put in a package that I did so.

I joined the team nearly two years ago, and like the rest of my team members, I’m glad I did. If you are an outstanding performer and would like to be part of a team that demonstrates Air Force professionalism and capabilities to millions of people each year, this is the team for you.

You probably have more questions than I can answer in this article, but I’ll briefly cover four topics: frequency of TDYs, some of the maintenance positions available, the application process and the Thunderbird 21-day orientation program. 

The frequency of TDYs for Thunderbird team members is weekly from mid-March through mid-November. About 55 of our 110 enlisted people leave each Thursday and return the following Monday. There are a few trips that extend to 10 days and overseas tours can be a month or more. Typically, overseas tours are held every other year.

We travel a lot, but the short duration of each trip allows us to return home almost weekly. Our mission’s success depends largely on maintenance personnel being home as well. Among other maintenance assignments, they launch the jets for each trip and recover them when they return. There are various maintenance positions available, including opportunities for people coming from aircraft other than the F-16. Although we prefer people with F-16 experience, people have been hired from other airframes and successfully maintain the F-16s. We currently have maintainers who came off F-15s, A-10s, C-5s, and C-130s, to name a few.

There are almost always openings for crew chiefs. People from other specialties are welcome to apply too. In fact, we currently have openings for fuels, structural, avionics, electrical, egress, non-destructive inspection and aerospace ground equipment personnel.

Applicants should have their five-skill level and be at least a senior airman. Interested applicants should first discuss applying with their supervisors before submitting an application to the team.

The procedure for submitting an application is simple. Send the documents listed on the Thunderbird application-requirements page to us.

If selected to join the team, your next step will be to complete the Thunderbird 21-day orientation program. The program is designed to teach you about the team’s history and traditions. Each new team member must study the information and be evaluated by a board near the end of the 21 days. The knowledge gained is valuable when discussing the team with people across the United States and abroad. 

There are vacancies in nearly all of our maintenance positions, so apply today. Don’t wait for someone to call you. If you’ve been successful so far in your career, you have what it takes to be successful on this team.

For more information about the application process, call Staff Sgt. Brandy Erven at DSN 682-2279 or (702) 652-2279.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).