The US Air Force air demonstration squadron, the Thunderbirds, debuted their new “wicked-high” show at the 2012 SUN ‘n FUN International Convention and Expo in Lakeland Florida on April 1, 2012.
Traditionally, the Thunderbirds have had two different shows: the high show when ceilings are unlimited, and the low show when weather doesn’t permit climbing to the top of the aerobatic box.
Audiences worldwide have become used to seeing either the low or the high show at airshows all around the world, and the Air Force thought it was time to show off the high-altitude capabilities of the F-16 Viper. The new wicked-high show was born.
While most aerobatic boxes go from the surface to 15,000 feet, the new wicked high show aerobatic box will started 15,000 feet and go all the way to the aircraft’s service ceiling of 55,000 feet.
The primary mission of the Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron is recruiting. The Air Force recognizes that, without the ability to actually see the jets in the flight, not much will be helped in the area of recruiting. Thus, the Air Force issued binoculars to the first 100,000 spectators to arrive at airshow site.
The F-16 Viper is capable of high-altitude air superiority, giving the United States a clear advantage over enemy air forces across the globe. With BVR capabilities, the Viper can shoot down enemy aircraft from beyond the visual range of the Mark 1 Eyeball, two of which are standard equipment on every Viper.
Audiences at this year’s SUN ‘n FUN event in Lakeland, Florida seemed happy with the new format of the airshow, giving the Air Force the confidence to continue with the new wicked-high show at future Air Force Thunderbird events.