Thunderbirds have landed in Great Falls

The Thunderbirds landed in Great Falls on Monday and will take a few days to rest before beginning practices for this weekends Flight over the Falls airshow.

The show is hosted by the Montana Air National Guard in partnership with the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base as the Air Force and MANG celebrate their 70th anniversary this year.

Thunderbirds arrive in Great Falls airspace next week

The Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s demonstration team, landed their F-16 fighters at MANG on Monday afternoon after flying from their last show at the Royal International Air Tattoo in England.

Maj. Nick Krajicek is No. 4, the slot pilot, and said the show is an “amazing display” of the pride and precision of the Air Force.

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The team is taking a few days off before practice runs on Thursday and Friday to get familiar with the airspace around Great Falls and the Great Falls International Airport, where the airshow will be held this weekend.

 

Krajicek originally enlisted in the Army as an infantry soldier and after attending warrant officer school, he flew UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters as a medevac pilot.

He said that while stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, he was sent to Montana in his Black Hawk to assist in wildfire operations.

The Nebraska native commissioned in the Air Force through the Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama in 2004. Before joining the Thunderbirds team, Krajicek was the wing director of staff and an F-16 instructor pilot at Osan Air Base in South Korea.

This is his second season with the Thunderbirds and has logged more than 3,900 flight hours as a military pilot with more than 650 hours of combat experience, according to the Thunderbirds.

Krajicek said that the No. 8 Thunderbird, Capt. Erik Gonsalves, will not be participating in the show this weekend. He’s currently undergoing rehabilitative treatment at Nellis AFB, Krajicek said. Gonsalves was injured in June during a mishap before a Thunderbirds show in Dayton, Ohio.

The Thunderbirds will perform all their classic maneuvers in this weekend’s show, but Krajicek said the team regularly changes the sequence of maneuvers, music and narration so “those folks who have seen the show before will notice the slight differences.”

For the next season, Krajicek’s spot will be taken by Capt. Stephan Del Bagno of the 58th Fighter Squadron at Eglin AFB in Florida. Del Bagno will be the first F-35 pilot to serve on the Thunderbirds team.

For more information about the show, schedule and planning your visit to Gore Hill, click here.