An F-16 pilot at Shaw Air Force Base has been named the newest member of the prestigious Thunderbirds demonstration squadron.
Capt. Joshua Larsen has been named the squadron’s advance pilot and narrator for the 2014 demonstration season. Larsen will be one of only 12 officers serving a two-year assignment with one of the Air Force’s most high-profile squadrons.
Larsen’s duties will include advancing to show sites ahead of the team, coordinating logistical details with the local show organizers and narrating to the crowd during performances, according to a Thunderbirds press release.
Half of the officer positions with the Thunderbirds, based out of Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, are rotated every year. Also named to the squadron at the same time as Larsen were Lt. Col. Matthew Bradley of Tyndal Air Force Base in Florida; Maj. Scott Petz of Nellis AFB; and Capt. Ryan Wick of Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. Other officers on the squadron have not been finalized.
“All who applied demonstrated outstanding support to our Air Force and our nation,” said Lt. Col. Greg Moseley, the outgoing squadron commander, who will be replaced by Bradley. “After an extensive interview and selection process, I’m confident the future of the Thunderbirds is in good hands.”
Moseley, as well, has Sumter ties. He is the son of retired Gen. T. Michael “Buzz” Moseley, who formerly served as the Air Force’s chief of staff and now lives in Sumter.
The Thunderbirds normally tour the country throughout the year performing acrobatic aerial demonstrations for audiences. However, because of military budget cuts imposed by sequestration this year, the squadron had to cancel about 60 performance dates for the remainder of 2013. The pilots plan to resume flight shows in March of next year.
The Thunderbirds were founded in 1953 as the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit, the Air Force branch’s official air demonstration team, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The team took its nickname from a legendary creature in Native American mythology.