Thunderbirds squadron’s origins traced to Kelly Field

USAF Thunderbirds to fly over San Antonio to honor COVID-19 frontline workers weather permitting

The Thunderbirds are a military institution in the United States, and the origins of the US Air Force air squadron are partially linked to San Antonio.
The Thunderbirds are a military institution in the United States, and the origins of the US Air Force air squadron are partially linked to San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO – The Thunderbirds are a military institution in the United States, and the origins of the US Air Force air squadron are partially linked to San Antonio.

The squadron flew over San Antonio on Wednesday. The Thunderbirds flyover was a salute and thank you to all health care workers, first responders and other essential personnel who are serving on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Great pics, videos of Thunderbirds flyover sent in by KSAT viewers

The roots of the Thunderbirds can be traced to June 1917 when the 30th Aero Squadron was organized at Kelly Field in San Antonio.

The squadron was activated when the United States entered World War I. It was demobilized a year later and then reconstituted as the 30th Bombardment Squadron in 1923.

The 30th Bombardment Squadron was reassigned to Kelly Field from 1930-1932, but was organized as a Regular Army Inactive (RAI). The squadron was discontinued and inactivated on Feb. 1, 1963.

Ten years earlier, the Thunderbirds were officially activated on June 1, 1953, as the 3600th Air Demonstration Team at Luke AFB, Ariz.

In September 1985, the 30th Bombardment Squadron was consolidated with the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron, which is the squadron known publicly as the Thunderbirds.

The Thunderbirds have performed around the world for millions of people for decades. Check out the scheduled flight path for San Antonio and Austin below.

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About the Author:

RJ Marquez has been at KSAT since 2010. He's covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area, and is the lead reporter for KSAT Explains. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms. You can see RJ regularly on KSAT Explains and Good Morning San Antonio. He also writes a weekly Spurs newsletter.