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All the pictures on these four pages were made during the 2006 season at Edwards AFB and at Nellis AFB.
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In 1947, while the jet age was still in its infancy, military aviation was hurtled into the future with the creation of the U.S. Air Force as a separate service.
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Just six years later, on May 25, 1953 , the Air Force’s official air demonstration team, designated the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit, was activated at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona .
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The name “Thunderbirds” was soon adopted by the unit; influenced in part by the strong Indian culture and folklore of the southwestern United States where Luke is located.
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Indian legend speaks of the Thunderbird with great fear and respect. To some it was a giant eagle … others envisioned a hawk. When it took to the skies, the earth trembled from the thunder of its great wings.
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From its eyes shot bolts of lightning. Nothing in nature could challenge the bird of thunder, the story said, and no man could stand against its might.
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The story of the Thunderbird was repeated, voice-by-voice, across the generations, until at last, it assumed the immortality of legend.
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A more appropriate name couldn't have been selected, as it is with the same commanding presence the Thunderbirds took to the skies.
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Seven officers and 22 enlisted were selected for the first demonstration team, most were handpicked from the cadre at Luke.
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Maj. Dick Catledge, a training squadron commander at Luke, was chosen as the team’s leader. Twins Bill and Buck Pattillo were selected and would fly left and right wing, respectively.
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The Pattillo's, both captains, were ideal choices as both had been with the “SkyBlazers”, a USAF/Europe demonstration team, for the past 3 years. For the difficult position of slot, the position sandwiched between both wingmen and behind the leader, Capt. Bob Kanaga was selected, an instructor at Luke.
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Please remember that all photo's are copyright SkyFlash/UGA, they are for private use only.

If you like these photo's as large scans, most of them are available on the CD-roms from publisher UGA/Media

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