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Thunderbirds will arrive in Punta Gorda this weekend for an air show

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Thunderbirds arrive in Punta Gorda for air show this weekend

PUNTA GODA, Fla. — The Thunderbirds are flying high above Southwest Florida this weekend at Florida International Air Show!

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds lead pilot says they always arrive at least one day ahead to practice and make sure everyone is flying smoothly.

“It’s important for us to see the elevation profile, see if there’s any obstacles to make the show site more challenging,” says Maj. Matt Kimmel.

It takes practice and skill to become a Thunderbird pilot. Even then, it takes two years to join the Thunderbird squad.

According to the lead pilot, he’s flown more than 2100 hours and says that flying F-16’s in his dreams is a reality.

“I first wanted to do aviation as a kid. I went to air shows as a kid. I grew up in California, we had our Travis Air Show at the Travis Air Force Base, and seeing that inspired me. I saw the Thunderbirds there and thought ‘man, that’s pretty cool.’ And for me, September 11th was a defining moment in my life to say ‘I want to go fly for the military and do combat aviation.’ I didn’t plan on being a Thunderbird; I wanted to be an instructor pilot in the F-16. I was able to do that. Then after doing that for about five years, I said ‘hey, I want to move on and see if I can fly these jets.”

To conclude each day, the Thunderbirds will be performing Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, at 4:30 pm. The airport will open for business at 5:30 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: Gates open at 9 am. Opening ceremonies begin at 11:30 am. The show will end at approximately 4 pm.

Fox 4 will be there. Stop by our tent and say hello!

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