Text: A-10 Demo Team & Chris Tonthat - Pictures: Chris Tonthat (an i2i Production) & Other as mentioned ©sbap 2021
   
The pilot:
(Courtesy A-10 Demo Team via Web©)

U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, certified the new A-10C Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team pilot and commander, during the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, March 6, 2021.
Capt. Haden "Gator" Fullam will be leading a team of ten Airmen, who will narrate, supervise and maintain the aircraft for the 2021 and 2022 airshow seasons. As the certified demonstration pilot, he will perform aerial manoeuvres and showcase the combat capabilities of the A-10 and the airmen who maintain it. Fullam will also perform heritage flights with Air Force aircraft from past generations, paying tribute to those who paved the way for Airmen that serve today.
"It's an honour and privilege to be command this group of Airmen," Fullam said. "The work the team does day-in and day-out is remarkable and shows the dedication and commitment we have to our mission, each other and everyone who attends the shows."
Before being named the team commander, he was an A-10 instructor pilot assigned to the 354th Fighter Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB. He is an experienced combat pilot with more than 1.500 flying hours.
Fullam is from Rising Fawn, Georgia, and is a graduate of the University of Tennessee. He joined the Air Force to pay tribute to his grandfathers, both Vietnam War veterans.

On February 26th, the team unveiled a new Vietnam War-era paint scheme for the demonstration jet in honour of the 97 Airmen assigned to the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, who either made the ultimate sacrifice of losing their lives during that conflict or became prisoners of war. Their names have been inscribed on the side of the aircraft, so that they will always be remembered.
"The opportunity to fly an aircraft with a Vietnam war-era paint scheme is one I never thought I would have," Fullam said. "Every time I fly that aircraft, it will have a special meaning to me, so giving the best and safest demonstrations at airshows is without question my priority. What is going to make that happen is the experience and professionalism we have as a team."
He replaces Maj. Cody "ShIV" Wilton, who stood the team back up in 2018 after a six-year hiatus.
"Gator is the perfect pilot to be leading the team because he embodies the attack pilot mentality prevalent in our community," Wilton said. "He will ensure the team continues to progress and over-deliver on our promise to recruit, retain and inspire the next generation of Airmen, and I am excited for the future of the team under his leadership."

 
A part on the team...
(Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production)
...and the plane
(Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production)

The team:

The West Coast A-10 Demonstration Team is one of seven Fighter Demonstration Teams sponsored by the Air Combat Command (ACC) of the United States Air Force. The West Coast A-10 Demonstration Team is assigned to the 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona.
The A-10 capability demonstration is designed to highlight the superior performance characteristics of the aircraft. The combination of high and low speed manoeuvring, rapid rolls, maximum performance climbs, descents, and simulated weapons employment vividly illustrate the Thunderbolt II's capabilities.
The Demonstration Team's mission is to promote recruiting and retention through understanding of the Air Force and its mission. After the show, team members answer questions about the demonstration and the Air Force in general. Team members also make community services and media appearances at show locations.

  
(Courtesy A-10 Demo Team via Web©) (Courtesy A-10 Demo Team via Web©)
 

The aircraft:

The A-10 and OA-10 Thunderbolt II's are the first Air Force aircraft specially designed for close air support of ground forces. They are simple, effective and survivable twin-engine jet aircraft that can be used against all ground targets, including tanks and other armoured vehicles. The A-10/OA-10 have excellent manoeuvrability at low airspeeds and altitude, and are highly accurate weapons-delivery platforms. They can loiter near battle areas for extended periods of time and operate under 1,000-foot ceilings (303.3 meters) with 1.5-mile (2.4 kilometers) visibility. Their wide combat radius and short takeoff and landing capability allow operations in and out of locations near front lines. Using night vision goggles, A-10/ OA-10 pilots can conduct their missions during darkness.

 
Kate Craddock Field,Texas appearance by Chris Tonthat (an i2i Production)
  
With many airshows already cancelled because of the same old song and dance, the first "real" airshow of the 2021 season kicked off on the 20th of March at KBMQ (Burnet Municipal Airport-Kate Craddock Field) near Austin, Texas. With minimal performers on the schedule, I decided to only go and catch the practice of the 2021 A-10 "Warthog" Demonstration Team on Friday the 19th . This year the A-10 Demo Team is featuring a new South East Asia camouflage (Vietnam) livery to remember all the pilots from the 355th FW that were either killed in action (KIA) or taken as prisoner of war (POW) during the Vietnam War. Unfortunately it's the backup A-10 aircraft that was used for the rehearsal practice flight so I was able to capture this aircraft only on the ground. The A-10 Demonstration Team did a great job with this amazing and historical livery!
The rehearsal practice day offered a perfect blue sky but was very light on the flight schedule.
The small airfield was opened to anyone that wanted to wander in to see the few airplanes that were there on Friday. When the A-10 flew, it felt almost like it was a dedicated performance just for the few of us photographers that were there. I wish all airshow events could be like this one…
  
A great paint scheme for the 2021 season
(Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production)
In memories of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing KIA and POW
(Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production)
(Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production) (Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production)
(Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production) (Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production)
(Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production)
(Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production) (Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production)
(Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production) (Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production)
(Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production)
(Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production) (Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production)
(Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production) (Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production)
(Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production)
(Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production) (Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production)
More information's about the A-10 Demo Team? Just click on the picture
(Chris Tonthat © / an i2i Production)
 
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