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A distinctive paint job adorns the tail sections of these F-16 jets belonging to the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds. Squadron recruiters will be at Osan Air Base, South Korea, next week seeking enlisted airmen as applicants for job openings within the elite squadron. The Thunderbirds are based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
A distinctive paint job adorns the tail sections of these F-16 jets belonging to the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds. Squadron recruiters will be at Osan Air Base, South Korea, next week seeking enlisted airmen as applicants for job openings within the elite squadron. The Thunderbirds are based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. (Courtesy of USAF)
A distinctive paint job adorns the tail sections of these F-16 jets belonging to the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds. Squadron recruiters will be at Osan Air Base, South Korea, next week seeking enlisted airmen as applicants for job openings within the elite squadron. The Thunderbirds are based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
A distinctive paint job adorns the tail sections of these F-16 jets belonging to the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds. Squadron recruiters will be at Osan Air Base, South Korea, next week seeking enlisted airmen as applicants for job openings within the elite squadron. The Thunderbirds are based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. (Courtesy of USAF)
The figure of a black thunderbird is visible on the underside of these F-16 jets of the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, during precision flying maneuvers.
The figure of a black thunderbird is visible on the underside of these F-16 jets of the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, during precision flying maneuvers. (Courtesy of USAF)

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Say “U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds” and what comes to mind for many is some of the world’s hottest precision jet pilots.

That and the gleaming white F-16 jets at an air show roaring overhead in a six-plane formation and holding to an average of 18 inches to three feet apart.

“A demonstration team flying lower, closer — extremely impressive formations. … Just about everybody I know is all very familiar with the Thunderbirds,” said Senior Airman Rusty Jones, an A-10 crew chief with Osan’s 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

But the Thunderbirds are more than their high-profile pilots. The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., depends heavily on the skills of enlisted airmen to function day to day.

And because the squadron needs to fill openings in its enlisted ranks, a Thunderbirds recruiting team will visit Osan next Thursday and Friday.

Enlisted airmen occupy jobs in 27 Air Force job specialties in the squadron. Recruiters hope to fill a range of current or projected openings for everything from jet mechanics and fuelers to graphic artists and supply clerks.

The team will visit units on base during both days and will hold a briefing for all interested enlisted airmen 3 p.m. Friday in the 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s conference room, Building 1624.

Airmen interested must show up with a letter of recommendation from their squadron commander, their last five Enlisted Performance Reports, a weight and body-fat letter from their orderly room and a current records review listing.

Senior Airman Robert Denessen also is an A-10 attack plane crew chief in Jones’s unit, and he’s thinking he might apply.

“It would be a big chance for me to actually learn about the F-16,” said Denessen, 23, of San Diego. “And also, being in a demonstration team, I’d be able to see the world … and be part of something that most airmen or fellow airmen wouldn’t be able to get into.”

Jones, 23, of Rosoboro, Ark., said he’ll apply next week.

“I look at as an opportunity to better myself,” said Jones. “I look at it as a challenging job. Because … the Thunderbirds are more of … ‘best of the best,’ 100 percent perfection … everything has to be the best it can be.”

The Thunderbirds air show season runs from March to November. Half the team leaves for a show site on Thursday and returns on Monday. The rest of the team stays at Nellis, doing maintenance on spare aircraft and conducting tours of the Thunderbirds museum.

The squadron’s training season is November to March, when the team remains at Nellis preparing for the upcoming show season.

Those selected for a special-duty assignment with the Thunderbirds serve a three-year controlled tour at Nellis.

For application information, call Staff Sgt. Butch Lagred at DSN 682-2278 or e-mail him at: anthony.lagred@nellis.af.mil

Information also is available at www.airforce.com/thunderbirds

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