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In 1986, the Thunderbirds participated in the rededication flyby of the Statue of Liberty and in September, another milestone was attained when the team went over the 200 million mark for total attendance.
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The largest crowd, 2.25 million people, to see a performance was at Coney Island, N.Y., July 4, 1987. The 1987 Far East tour marked their debut in Beijing, China -- the first American military demonstration performance in a Communist country.
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Operation Desert Storm cancelled the 1990 European tour and the season was shortened. The team converted to the F-16C in 1992, bringing the F-16A era to an end.
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In 1996, the team traveled again to Europe where crowds from former Warsaw Pact countries enjoyed the "Ambassadors in Blue." In July 1996, the team participated in opening ceremonies of the Centennial Olympics held in Atlanta which were viewed by an estimated 3.5 billion people around the world.
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USAF Thunderbirds, Public Affairs Office; 4445 Tyndall Ave.; Nellis AFB, NV 89191-6079; DSN 682-6776 or (702) 652-6776; e-mail:
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In 2007 the Thunderbirds will be back in Europe
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The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, performs precision aerial maneuvers demonstrating the capabilities of Air Force high performance aircraft to people throughout the world. The squadron exhibits the professional qualities the Air Force develops in the people who fly, maintain and support these aircraft.
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Much of the Thunderbirds display alternates between maneuvers performed by the diamond, and those performed by the solos. The diamond performs maneuvers in tight formation such as formation loops and barrel rolls or transitions from one formation to another. 
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The opposing solos usually perform their maneuvers just under the speed of sound, and show off the capabilities of their individual F-16s by doing maneuver such as fast passes, slow passes, fast rolls, slow rolls, and very tight turns. Some of their maneuvers include both solo F-16s at once, such as opposing passes (where the solos fly towards each other in what appears to be a collision course, and seem to narrowly miss each other) and mirror formations (their two F-16s being flown back-to-back in the calypso pass or belly-to-belly. 
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In such formations, one Thunderbird must of course be inverted, and it is always Thunderbird number 5. In fact, the "5" on this aircraft is painted on upside down, and thus appears right-side-up for much of the routine). At the end of the routine, all six aircraft join in formation, forming the Delta. There is also an extra amount of humor regarding the inverted performance of Thunderbird Five: the pilots all wear tailored flight suits with their name and jet number embroidered on the left breast. The 5 is sewn inverted.
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