The world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will perform the flyover for the 64th annual DAYTONA on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022 at Daytona International Speedway, the prestigious season-opening event for the NASCAR Cup Series (FOX, FOX Deportes, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
The flyover will mark the 12th consecutive year, and 13th total, that “America’s Ambassadors in Blue” – officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron – will showcase their world-class talent and precise choreography flying their signature “Delta” formation over the World Center of Racing at the end of the National Anthem for The Great American Race.
“The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flyover is synonymous with our tradition-rich DAYTONA 500 pre-race ceremonies,” Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher said. “We’re honored to have them back for what will be a packed house for the 64th DAYTONA 500. It will be an exhilarating spectacle and a cherished moment to see for those in attendance, plus the millions more watching on FOX, as they soar over the Speedway at the end of the National Anthem.”
The Thunderbirds feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons, the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighter aircraft. Assigned to Air Combat Command, the squadron is composed of 12 officers and more than 120 enlisted personnel serving in nearly 30 Air Force job specialties. They have a rigorous schedule, performing hour-long demonstrations across the United States nearly 30 weekends between March and November.
“The Daytona 500 is more than a precisely timed flyover for us,” said Lt. Col. Justin Elliott, Thunderbirds commander and leader. “It marks the beginning of our show season and showcases the hard work and dedication of the entire squadron. While we never stop training to improve the demonstration, we’re excited to begin showcasing our efforts.
“We are grateful to the Speedway and community for their continued support and the opportunity to showcase the pride, precision and professionalism of the United States Air Force.”
Since the unit’s inception in 1953, more than 400 million people in all 50 states and more than 60 countries have witnessed the distinctive red, white and blue jets in thousands of official aerial demonstrations.
For a select group of Thunderbird team members, the DAYTONA 500 will be in familiar surroundings as they hail from Florida:
- Maj. Zane Taylor, Thunderbird 4 – Slot Pilot, is from Orlando, Florida.
- MSgt Sean Sirico, Maintenance Production Superintendent, is from Spring Hill, Florida.
- TSgt Ryan Leon, Electrical and Environmental Systems Tech., is from Hialeah, Florida.
- TSgt Paton Holmes, Line Cone, is from Islamorada, Florida.
- TSgt Seth McKinney, Egress Section Chief, is from Tampa, Florida.
- SSgt Alec Atkinson, Crew Chief, is from Lake Wales, Florida.
- SSgt Diana Quijada, Aircrew Flight Equipment Specialist, is from Tallahassee, Florida.
- SSgt Brandon Murdagh, Quality Assurance Tech., is from Orange Park, Florida.
- SSgt Joshua Echevarria, #6 Dedicated Crew Chief, is from Sunrise, Florida.
- SSgt Ryan Burns, Aircraft Maintenance Phase Tech., is from Pensacola, Florida.
— Daytona International Speedway —