PORTLAND -- The crowd-pleasing Thunderbirds have landed in Portland, just in time for this weekend's Oregon International Air Show.
The Thunderbirds are the air demonstration squad of the United States Air Force. Based at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, the Thunderbirds tour the United States and the world, performing in aerobatic formations.
One of the Thunderbirds pilots told KGW they’re doing something a little different this year in Portland. They’re flying in honor of Navy Corpsman Major Ryan Gallinger-Long of Cornelius. He was killed in Afghanistan last summer and one of the planes will be marked in memory of him this weekend.
The Thunderbirds F-16s landed one right after another Wednesday afternoon. The aerobatic squadron is a big fan favorite at the air show. For organizers in Hillsboro, it’s like Christmas morning as they prepare for Friday’s opening night. Pilot Michael Wiskus can't wait for the fan reaction as he performs his spiraling stunts.
“It’s always the same reaction, I can’t believe an airplane will do that we always get that all the time and I love that reaction,” Wiskus said.
Organizers were expecting 100,000 people at the air show, which starts Friday and runs through the weekend.
The pilots said they’re excited it’s sunny since they just left rainy Alaska. It looks like they’ll be getting more of this sunshine this weekend.