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A C-130J Super Hercules from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing deploys flares as part of an aerial demonstration during the Thunder Over Louisville air show and fireworks display in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. This year’s event drew hundreds of thousands of spectators to the banks of the Ohio River and featured more than two dozen aircraft.

A C-130J Super Hercules from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing deploys flares as part of an aerial demonstration during the Thunder Over Louisville air show and fireworks display in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. This year’s event drew hundreds of thousands of spectators to the banks of the Ohio River and featured more than two dozen aircraft. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

More than two dozen rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft took to Kentucky’s skies on Saturday for the 35th annual Thunder Over Louisville.

The one-day air show, which marks the start of the Kentucky Derby Festival, drew hundreds of thousands of spectators to the banks of the Ohio River. It featured appearances by:

• The U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper Demo Team, A-10 Thunderbolt II, B-52 Stratofortress and C-17 Globemaster III.

• The U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler Demo Team and MH-53E Sea Dragon.

• The U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper.

• The Royal Canadian Air Force C/A-18 Hornet.

• The German Air Force A-400M Atlas.

An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing in Toledo, Ohio, steaks over the Clark Memorial Bridge to kick off the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024.

An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing in Toledo, Ohio, steaks over the Clark Memorial Bridge to kick off the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

The Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing also gave a four-ship C-130J Super Hercules demonstration, with airmen from the wing’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron parachuting into the Ohio River. The Air Guard’s special operators also executed a helocast into the Ohio River from a Kentucky Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk assigned to the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade.

The Kentucky Air National Guard provided support for the show, serving as a primary base of operations for military aircraft that participated. The Guard provided maintenance and logistical support to the aircraft throughout the day.

“Thunder Over Louisville is a major undertaking for the wing every year,” Maj. Nick Reinke, a Hercules pilot and air show coordinator for the Kentucky Air Guard, said in a statement from the 123rd Airlift Wing. “The planning for next year’s show is actually going to start (this week) — it really is a year-long process. But it’s also something we love supporting and helping stage for the city of Louisville in partnership with the Kentucky Derby Festival.”

Four F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing in Toledo, Ohio, streak over the Clark Memorial Bridge to kick off the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024.

Four F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing in Toledo, Ohio, streak over the Clark Memorial Bridge to kick off the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

A pararescueman from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron leaps into the Ohio River from a Kentucky Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk as part of a helocast water-rescue demonstration during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024.

A pararescueman from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron leaps into the Ohio River from a Kentucky Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk as part of a helocast water-rescue demonstration during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

A U.S. Navy MH-53 Sea Dragon from Norfolk Naval Air Station, Va., performs an aerobatic display during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024.

A U.S. Navy MH-53 Sea Dragon from Norfolk Naval Air Station, Va., performs an aerobatic display during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

A C-130J Super Hercules from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing performs an aerial demonstration during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. This year’s event featured more than two-dozen military and civilian planes, including the Kentucky Air National Guard’s C130J Super Hercules.

A C-130J Super Hercules from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing performs an aerial demonstration during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. This year’s event featured more than two-dozen military and civilian planes, including the Kentucky Air National Guard’s C130J Super Hercules. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III from the 97th Airlift Wing at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., performs an aerobatic display during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024.

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III from the 97th Airlift Wing at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., performs an aerobatic display during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

A pararescueman from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron parachutes into the Ohio River as part of a demonstration during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024.

A pararescueman from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron parachutes into the Ohio River as part of a demonstration during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

An airman from the U.S. Air Force Academy Wings of Blue demo team parachutes into Slugger Field during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024.

An airman from the U.S. Air Force Academy Wings of Blue demo team parachutes into Slugger Field during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

The U.S. Navy’s EA-18G Growler Demonstration Team, from Naval Air Station Whidby Island, Wash., performs an aerobatic display during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024.

The U.S. Navy’s EA-18G Growler Demonstration Team, from Naval Air Station Whidby Island, Wash., performs an aerobatic display during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

Hundreds of thousands of spectators line the banks of the Ohio River in Louisville, Ky., and southern Indiana for the annual Thunder Over Louisville air show and fireworks display Saturday, April 20, 2024, officials said.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators line the banks of the Ohio River in Louisville, Ky., and southern Indiana for the annual Thunder Over Louisville air show and fireworks display Saturday, April 20, 2024, officials said. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

Two pararescuemen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron parachute into the Ohio River as part of a demonstration during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024.

Two pararescuemen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron parachute into the Ohio River as part of a demonstration during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

A U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer is lowered into the Ohio River as part of a helocast water-rescue demonstration during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024.

A U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer is lowered into the Ohio River as part of a helocast water-rescue demonstration during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

Two U.S. Navy E-2C Hawkeyes from Norfolk Naval Air Station, Va., perform an aerobatic display during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024.

Two U.S. Navy E-2C Hawkeyes from Norfolk Naval Air Station, Va., perform an aerobatic display during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

A C-130J Super Hercules from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing airdrops six pararescuemen from 3,500 feet during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024.

A C-130J Super Hercules from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing airdrops six pararescuemen from 3,500 feet during the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

A vintage P-51 Mustang and a current U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon cruise into the sunset during a heritage flight as part of the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024.

A vintage P-51 Mustang and a current U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon cruise into the sunset during a heritage flight as part of the Thunder Over Louisville air show in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard)

Brian McElhiney is reporter for Stars and Stripes based in Okinawa, Japan. He has worked as a music reporter and editor for publications in New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Oregon. One of his earliest journalistic inspirations came from reading Stars and Stripes as a kid growing up in Okinawa.

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