These are the very talented and skilful Thunderbirds, the U.S. Airforces’ demonstration team, performing at Cocoa Beach in Florida as a prelude to the now postponed Shuttle launch.
The Thunderbirds are the air demonstration squadron of the U.S. Air Force (USAF), based at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada. The squadron tours the United States and much of the world, performing aerobatic formation and solo flying in specially-marked USAF jet aircraft.
Officers serve a two-year assignment with the squadron, while enlisted personnel serve three to four. Replacements must be trained for about half of the team each year, providing a constant mix of experience. The squadron performs no more than 88 air demonstrations each year and has never canceled a demonstration due to maintenance difficulty.
In addition to their air demonstration responsibilities, the Thunderbirds are part of the USAF combat force and if required, can be rapidly integrated into an operational fighter unit. Since February 15, 1974 the Thunderbirds have been a component of the 57th Wing at Nellis AFB.
The Thunderbirds were activated, after 6 months training in an unofficial status, on May 25, 1953 as the 3600th Air Demonstration Team at Luke AFB, just west of Phoenix. They were officially activated as the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron on February 13, 1967. (Wikipedia)
Canon EOS 550D. Canon EF 70-300mmIS.