Once in a while, I like to mix things up here by returning to the present. Really, I don't actually live in 1942! Although, of course, it may be the distant past when you actually read this. Such is life on the Internet.
These are some pictures that I took of the Thunderbirds at the 30 May 2019 in Colorado Springs at the Air Force Academy graduation.
The jets are the Air Force Thunderbirds.
More specifically, this is the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron. The Thunderbirds are assigned to the Air Force's 57th Wing and are based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
The 57th Wing (actually, its predecessor) was established on 20 November 1940 and thus served during World War II. See, I did manage to work in a World War II connection!
The 57th Wing provides training for composite strike forces. These include every type of aircraft in the Air Force inventory. These pilots all have one thing in common: they all came through the Colorado Springs Air Force Academy.
The Thunderbirds have been operating with the 57th Wing since 1974. You may be more familiar with the Navy's Blue Angels. Well, the Thunderbirds may not be as blue as the Blue Angels, but they are just as good.
It's easy to think that flying with the Thunderbirds is a cushy job and not too tough. However, planes in these demonstration squadrons do crash occasionally. In fact, one of the Thunderbirds crashed just south of Colorado Springs right after performing at the AFA graduation ceremony while Barack Obama was President.
President Donald Trump attended the 2019 Air Force Academy graduation ceremony. He gave a speech and then shook the hands of all 1000 graduates. It took about an hour and a half.
The weather at the 2019 graduation ceremony was sketchy. It didn't actually rain, but it looked like it might throughout the ceremony.
The Thunderbirds usually perform at 12:30 local time, but for some reason that was switched to 2:30 p.m. in 2019. This was probably due to the President's participation, but no official reason for the change was offered.
It was very cloudy throughout the Thunderbirds' demonstration. The clouds made filming the demonstration a bit trickier than usual. However, in some ways, having the clouds passing by made for more interesting shots.
If you are unfamiliar with Colorado Springs, the big mountain is Pikes Peak. Falcon Stadium, where the graduation took place, is to its right as we are looking at them. Cheyenne Mountain is to the left.
There has been a lot of development across the highway from Falcon Stadium. Only ten years ago, this was all barren ground. Now, they are building condos and hotels all across the prairie.
The temperature during the ceremony was barely 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The spring of 2019 was unusually mild. In fact, there was a snowfall in the Springs barely a week before the ceremony.
The Thunderbirds performance seemed a little different than in previous years. Perhaps that was just due to normal revisions. As usual, it lasted about half an hour.
I think they altered the performance slightly due to the low-hanging clouds.
Oh, full disclosure. I've done some processing on these photos for color balance and exposure and so forth in order to make them more pleasing to the eye and to better reflect reality. But they are all original photos, no composites, no cloning, just color balancing enhancing and the like.
It may appear as if some of these were taken at different elevations, but that is just a function of where I was and the changing orientation of the jets. Looking at them, I can see how it might appear that some of the photos were taken from above the jets, but that is just an optical illusion based upon the orientation of the planes with regards to the mountains.
One cool thing about Colorado Springs is that you get a wide variety of backgrounds and elevations. I stood in the same spot throughout the performance and simply turned to face the passing planes. Sometimes the planes passed very near to my own elevation, and with the mountains behind them and with them turning, it looks like I am above them.
Oh, in case you are wondering, every photo on this page is different. Nothing is repeated. Some were parts of the same sequence clicked at different times, sometimes in rapid succession. I took literally hundreds of photos and just pulled these out to give a flavor of the experience for those unable to attend.
I actually was kind of surprised that I got anything usable at all. The clouds were low, and some were dark and looked ready to unleash rain or even hail. The light was poor and variable, though the sun did peak through now and then. Standing outside in the breeze wasn't the most comfortable experience, and it was my impression that the crowds watching this year were not as plentiful as in some other years. However, it was worth it to witness these magnificent fliers.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them!