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Senior Correspondent

Falcons are extremely fast and fearless; the Peregrine Falcon is one of the fastest creatures on earth diving at over 200 mph. The US Air Force has a deadly fighter airplane, the F-16, called the Fighting Falcon. The Thunderbirds is a group of Fighting Falcon pilots who with their crews are the Air Force's elite demonstration team, usually performing at Air Shows. They always thrill vast crowds with formation maneuvers which are carefully planned and precisely executed. The pilots who fly these F-16'S are not simply aerobatic experts; they are skilled combat warriors.  Indeed, they are the "cream of the crop," carefully selected from among the finest fighter pilots in the world – men and women of the Wild Blue.

I have known many Thunderbird pilots through the years. Recently, Captain Kristin Hubbard (she flies Thunderbird 8) and I were chatting, and I mentioned how wonderful it is to see how far ladies have progressed since the days of the WASP‘s in World War II. Those Women Air Force Service Pilots were limited primarily to ferrying planes from the factories to using organizations. Although their service was remarkable, they were not recognized as Air Force pilots for decades. Now, I observed, "You ladies are flying our latest planes and accomplishing operational missions along with the 'guys.'"

Kristin mentioned that she had admired the WASP for many years, but had never met one. I made a promise to her. As "Thunderbird No.8" she is a team member and flies to each base to assure that everything is "A OK" before each performance. She is the Narrator for all performances. On rehearsal days, she flies solo aerobatic routines and gives VIP flights.

At the Luke Air Force Base 2011 Air Show ("Luke Days"), March 19-20, 2011 commemorating "70 Years of Thunder," the Thunderbirds were featured performers.

My good friend, WASP Geri Nyman, and I, along with our families, excitedly viewed the Thunderbird show on VIP day. Geri is one of two surviving members of the first WASP class and was, of course, a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal. 

As soon as the aerial performance ended, I made good on my promise to Kristin and introduced the two lady pilots, Kristin of Fighting Falcon fame and decorated WASP Geri. They had a pleasant meeting and discussion.  They were indeed a pair of beautiful ladies in their uniforms – a compliment to the Air Force. It was a blue sky day. 

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