Cannon Airman chosen for Thunderbird maintenance team

The Thunderbirds fly above the crowds in this courtesy photo. A Cannon Airman has been chosen for the maintenance team.

Melanie Salazar

Senior Airman Chris Davidson, 524th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, may not be the most decorated Airman in the Air Force, but his hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“I’m not one of those guys with a whole lot of awards,” he said. “I just do my job the best that I can do it.”
By performing with high standards for over four years in the Air Force, Amn. Davidson has earned a spot on the Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s official demonstration team in Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
“It’s been a long term dream of mine. My uncle was on the Thunderbirds in the 60s,” he said. “It’s something I always said I was going to do.”
Amn. Davidson, who began applying for the position in March, said he will most likely be a crew chief for the maintenance team — working the same job he does at Cannon.
He will be leaving for a 21-day orientation period on Sept. 7, where he will work 12-hour shifts learning the ropes as a Thunderbird maintainer.
While his responsibilities may not change too drastically, Amn. Davidson said he is looking forward to traveling more and “touring” with the Air Force in his more public-oriented position as a member of the Tunderbirds.
The Thunderbirds, designated the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit in May 1953, was formed six years after the Air Force became a separate service.
Their mission is to support Air Force recruiting and retention programs and reinforce public confidence in the Air Force, demonstrating its professional nature.
The makeup of the Thunderbirds has gone through some changes since the unit’s activation more than 50 years ago, which then had seven officers and 22 enlisted members (most of them from Luke AFB), according to Thunderbirds website (www.airforce.com/thunderbirds).
Today the team is comprised of 12 officers and more than 120 enlisted Airmen from around the Air Force. Each officer serves two years, while enlisted members serve three or four.
The Thunderbirds fly about 70 official air shows every year at about 40 different locations across the continent and internationally, flying almost every weekday and weekend between March and November.
While all this flying requires a lot of maintenance to ensure the jets are fully mission capable, Amn. Davidson said he is excited to have a hand in the maintenance of the Air Force’s “flagship fleet”—12 F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.
“It’s a great honor,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest honors that [F-16 crew chiefs] can have.”
For information on the Thunderbirds, visit www.airforce.com/thunderbirds.