Sun, Aug 11, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Thunder Tigers steal air show on 60th anniversary

By Liu Wan-chun and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

Fighter jets fly in formation over the Tainan Air Force Base, which was opened to the public yesterday.

Photo: Huang Chih-yuan, Taipei Times

The air force’s Thunder Tigers aerobatics team celebrated its 60th anniversary yesterday by putting on an aerial display at Tainan Air Force Base, thrilling a crowd of more than 10,000.

The team’s seven AT-3 jet trainers conducted a series of spectacular aerial stunts after soaring through the air in formation and creating multicolored smoke ribbons in the sky.

The team dazzled the crowds, receiving accolades with inverted flying, tumbling dives, U-turn loops and barrel rolls, along with precision formation flying for a colorful display of red, white and blue jet smoke trails.

The audience were also treated to the jet fighters drawing sketches, with the blue sky as the background canvas, including a flower and a heart shape, as a way for the Thunder Tigers to wish the viewing public a happy Chinese Lovers’ Day — the seventh day of the seventh month on the lunar calendar, which falls on Tuesday this year.

The Thunder Tigers, which were formed in Tainan in 1953 and performed in Taiwan for the first time in 1954, made their overseas debut in 1957 at the Philippines International Air Show in Manila. The team gained fame in 1959 when it performed a stunning and dangerous aerial stunt with 12 F-86 Sabres at the International Aviation Association’s air show and has performed in several countries around the world since.

Yesterday was the first time the team had performed at Tainan Air Force Base since moving from the base to the Republic of China Air Force Academy in Gangshan (岡山), Kaohsiung City, 20 years ago.

“Behind the amazing aerial show by the Thunder Tigers, for all their efforts, we also have to thank the air force, the military and the pilots’ hard work and sacrifice in defense of our nation,” Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) said. “The military and the public must unite together so that Taiwan can make progress to become a country with security and happiness for the people.”

Yesterday’s event was an open house day at the Tainan Air Force Base, with a variety of aircraft, helicopters and vehicles, including the F-16, IDF and Mirage 2000 jet fighters, on display to give the locals, photographers and military buffs a rare chance to tour the facilities inside the base.

Visitors could also take pictures of the many air force officers who were present, so the amateur photographers also had a field day.

Air Force Day is on Wednesday.

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