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Thunderbirds will soar over Hickam


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POSTED: Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The red, white and blue F-16s of the Air Force's aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, will soar over Hickam Air Force Base this weekend, with more than 120,000 people expected to attend the installation's first open house since 2003.

The last time the four-aircraft diamond formation flew in Hawaii skies was in September 2007. At that time the four jets left the runway at Hickam and were reunited in a tight diamond shape off the beaches fronting the Hale Koa Hotel.

This time ground zero where the jets will perform their formation and solo routines will be over the flight line at Hickam. At times the F-16s will fly as close as 18 inches apart at 400 mph.

The National Weather Service predicts clear skies with the temperature expected to climb to the high 80s on both days with the chance of rain set at only 20 percent.

Hickam's “;Wings Over the Pacific”; open house will begin at 10 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. This is a free event.

Free on-base parking is available. However, space is limited and carpools are encouraged, base officials said. The Air Force will not allow coolers, camera bags larger than 8 inches, chairs, glass containers, weapons, pocketknives, alcohol, Camel Backs, drugs, skateboards, Rollerblades or bicycles.

The entire show will run about an hour and 15 minutes. The ground show will begin at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, followed by the aerial demonstration at 3 p.m. The pilots will perform approximately 30 maneuvers in a demonstration.

The Army's Golden Knights parachute team also will perform.

The open house will feature Air Force, Army and Marine Corps aircraft on display, as well as food and drink vendors, numerous other family activities and an appearance by Ultimate Fighting champion B.J. Penn.

Lt. Col. Greg Thomas leads the Thunderbirds, based at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. This weekend's performance will be one of 73 shows this year and the last before the team begins its Asian tour.

The Air Force pilots fly Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcons and serve a two-year tour.

In October 2007 the Navy's Blue Angels put on an aerial show over Kaneohe Bay at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.