USAF Thunderbirds officially have new commander

Published: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 @ 10:05 PM

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. CONTRIBUTED
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. CONTRIBUTED

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh assumed command of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds during a Wednesday ceremony at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

Walsh will fly the No. 1 jet and lead all demonstration flights that highlight the power and precision of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, according to the Thunderbirds’ website.

>> Air Force picks new Thunderbirds leader after former commander removed

The Long Island, N.Y., native also will oversee 130 service members.

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh

He replaces Lt. Col. Jason Heard who was removed last month after his commanding officer said he “lost confidence in his leadership and risk management style,” according to an Air Force statement.

They said it was not related to a Thunderbird jet mishap in Dayton. On. June 23, a two-seat fighter jet slid off a wet runway in a rainstorm and overturned in a grassy area at the Dayton International Airport. A pilot was injured during the single aircraft “familiarization flight.”

>> Excessive speed to blame for Thunderbird crash in Dayton

Walsh, a former F-16 weapons tactics instructor, has served with the Thunderbirds for two years and has more than 2,600 flying hours in the cockpit, the Air Force said.

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Thunderbirds name new pilot, cancel more shows to prepare after crash

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 11:42 AM

Behind the scenes at Thunderbird training

The Air Force Thunderbirds canceled two more shows to allow a new pilot to qualify while the team prepares to resume the 2018 show season after a deadly training crash.

BEHIND THE SCENES: News Center 7 had rare access to Thunderbirds just weeks before crash

Maj. Nick “Khan” Krajicek, who will fly the remainder of this season, was the No. 4 pilot the previous two show seasons.

The team had suspended flights and canceled public performances since a tragic April 4 crash killed Maj. Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno during practice over the Nevada Test and Training Range.

RELATED: Air Force Thunderbirds return to practice, but more shows could be canceled

“We’re grateful to have Kahn coming back to the team,” Thunderbirds commander Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh said in a statement Thursday. “His experience and familiarity with our team’s mission and the demonstration profile make him the right choice as we safely make our way back on the road to recruit, retain and inspire once more.”

The team announced Thursday it would cancel upcoming aerial performances at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., this weekend and in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and had not yet determined if two additional air show appearances in Texas and Virginia may be canceled in May.

Thunderbirds pilot killed in training crash identified

After the crash, the Thunderbirds scrubbed appearances at March Air Reserve Base in California, in Lakeland, Fla., and at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., this month.

The accident was the most serious since a Thunderbird jet ran off a runway and flipped at Dayton International Airport last June during a familiarization flight, trapping two crewmen until they were rescued by first responders. The mishap scrubbed the team’s appearance in Dayton.

An Air Force investigation determined excessive speed and landing too far down on a wet runway contributed to the June 23 incident that destroyed the $29.2 million fighter jet.

RELATED: Excessive speed blamed for Thunderbird jet crash in Dayton

Then team narrator and F-16 pilot Capt. Erik Gonsalves was hospitalized for leg injuries, according to the Air Force. A second crewman who was a backseat passenger in the two-seat F-16D jet was uninjured, the Air Force said.

The Thunderbirds are scheduled to appear at the Vectren Dayton Air Show in the 2019 show season. The Navy’s Blue Angels are set to fly at the air show June 23-24.

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From musicians to medicine: AF Marathon recruiting army of volunteers

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 6:10 PM


            Air Force Marathon volunteer Brian Childers, of Portsmouth, hangs race day medals at the finish line at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in September 2016. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF FILE PHOTO
Air Force Marathon volunteer Brian Childers, of Portsmouth, hangs race day medals at the finish line at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in September 2016. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF FILE PHOTO

From musicians to people handing out medals, an army of volunteers run the Air Force Marathon.

May 1 is the first day to register to join a horde of 2,400 volunteers needed to jump start the Sept. 15 event that may draw as many as 15,000 runners from all 50 states and around the world to run a 10K, half- and full-marathons at Wright-Patterson. The marathon’s 5K race is set for Sept. 14 at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.

Volunteers also help run the Sports & Fitness Expo on Sept. 13-14, which attracts 30,000 people every year to the Nutter Center.

“From pre-race, behind-the-scenes opportunities to race day, finish line jobs, our volunteers are the key toour success — we couldn’t have this marathon without them,” Jeannette Monaghan, a volunteer coordinator, said in a statement.

Entertainers, such as DJs, bands and solo acts, are among volunteers the marathon wants to bring on the course, she said.

Volunteers may check available positions and register online at www.usafmarathon.com.

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Australia, NZ, U.S. troops to mark ANZAC Day at Wright-Patt

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 3:07 PM


            U.S. Air Force Col. Trisha Sexton salutes after laying a red poppy next to three wreaths to commemorate ANZAC Day on April 25, 2017 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. In the year marking the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I, about 100 people, some wearing the uniforms of foreign militaries, marked ANZAC Day. The day commemorates the first major battle Australian and New Zealand troops fought in World War I. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF
            BARRIE BARBER/STAFF
U.S. Air Force Col. Trisha Sexton salutes after laying a red poppy next to three wreaths to commemorate ANZAC Day on April 25, 2017 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. In the year marking the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I, about 100 people, some wearing the uniforms of foreign militaries, marked ANZAC Day. The day commemorates the first major battle Australian and New Zealand troops fought in World War I. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF(BARRIE BARBER/STAFF)

Australian, New Zealand and U.S. Air Force troops will mark ANZAC Day in a ceremony Wednesday at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

ANZAC Day commemorates the first major battle Australian and New Zealand troops fought as allies in World War I.

The ceremony is set from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at the Air Force museum’s Memorial Park.

RELATED: Australians mark ANZAC Day at Air Force museum

But it’s symbolism goes beyond the battle in what is now northern Turkey, Royal Australian Air Force Commander Andrew State, who is assigned to the Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate at Wright-Patterson, said Tuesday.

Australian and New Zealanders mark ANZAC — Australian-New Zealand Army Corps — Day in services around the world, described as a combination of Memorial Day and Veterans Day in the United States.

“It’s celebrated each year,” he said. “It’s gone way beyond just the battle in World War I and it’s come to mean where we remember all military people (from Australia and New Zealand) who have fallen in operational services and also those who currently serve. … It’s come to mean spirit, inspiration, self-reliance and sacrifice.”

RELATED: World War II 75 years later: 101-year-old Dayton native relives World War II raid

ANZAC represents thousands of troops from both nations who fought Ottoman Turk forces beginning April 25, 1915, on the Gallipoli peninsula in what was the Ottoman Empire to open the Dardanelles straits to allied navies. Australia lost 8,000 troops in the months-long battle that ended in a stalemate.

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Major Wright-Patt gate will temporarily close today

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 10:00 AM
Updated: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 2:14 AM

Major Wright-Patt gate will temporarily close

A major gateway will close at Wright-Patterson today for maintenance, impacting the travel of thousands of commuters.

Gate 19B off National Road will be closed from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., according to base spokesman Daryl Mayer.

More than 5,700 inbound drivers travel through the entrance and nearly 6,300 drive off base through the gate every work day.

Crews will work on “routine maintenance” at the gateway, Mayer said.

RELATED: Wright-Patt gateway to close as part of security upgrade

“Since that (gate) is open 24/7 normally, they never have a chance to work on it,” he said.

Motorists may use Gates 1B off Springfield Street and Gate 22B off Interstate 675 as alternatives, according to Wright-Patterson.

Gate 19B had a major makeover last year with $1.3 million in upgrades that added overhead canopies, more guard booths and a barrier system, Wright-Patterson has said.

RELATED: Security concerns prompt Wright-Patt to close major gateway

The base closed Gate 26A off Ohio 235 because of security concerns this month. The gate, which had more than 5,000 vehicles a day, remains closed.

A new $10.5 million replacement gate, combining the current Gate 26A and the commercial truck entrance at Gate 16A off Ohio 444, is due to open late next year.

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