In a very rare move, the US Air Force has fired Lt. Col. Jason Heard, the commanding office of the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron better known to aviation enthusiasts as the Thunderbirds.

The Air Force did not give a reason for his departure but said his boss, Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander, lost confidence in his abilities and believed new leadership was necessary “to ensure the highest levels of pride, precision and professionalism within the team.”

“This was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one that is ultimately in the best interests of the Thunderbird team. I am personally grateful for Jason’s dedication to the 2017 season,” Leavitt said.

“While he led a highly successful 2017 show season featuring 72 demonstrations over 39 show sites, concerns arose that his approach to leading the team was resulting in increased risk within the demonstration, which eroded the team dynamic,” said Maj. Ray Geoffroy, an Air Force spokesman.

“The team dynamic in the Thunderbirds is absolutely unique. We are on the road together more than 200 days per year, executing flying operations with absolutely no margin for error. As a result, absolute trust and teamwork in both our professional and personal dynamics are foundational to our mission.” – Fox News

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The Thunderbirds Operations Officer, Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh will take command of the unit until a replacement is found.

Featured image of Lt. Col. Jason Heard by US Air Force

Lt. Col. Jason Heard, commander of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron