I, like many of my friends, was bit by the flying bug thanks to the United States Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron–the Thunderbirds. In my case, I was three years old and it was my first airshow. A hot day on the ramp at what is now Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington. It was a warm day, and I remember the smells of the hot asphalt and jet fuel. Most of all, I remember shiny red, white, and blue T-38s with their tails emblazoned with numbers zipping around the sky like race cars. The one that caught my attention most was the #5 jet, the lead solo–flown that year by Captain Gail Scarbrough.
I was completely enamored with how much time he seemed to spend, of all things, upside down. That was just…cool. So that was it for me, a defining moment where something clicked and I made the decision that someday I would be a pilot. I was hooked. Poisoned by the flying bug.
This video puts us in the cockpit with the Lead Solo of the USAF Thunderbirds for the past two seasons, Major Blaine “Deuce” Jones. Deuce is a fantastic dude; I am honored to call him a friend and feel very blessed to have seen his career progress. When we first met, he was still flying the mighty Boeing F-15C Eagle at Elmendorf Air Force Base. From there, I watched him make the transition to the Lockheed-Martin F-22A Raptor, and then earn his spot on the Thunderbirds.
Though he is done on the team and moving into the next chapter of his life is with his pen poised to begin writing, I have absolutely no doubt that amazing things are ahead. Thanks, Deuce!