Skill and precision: Ohio State alum named Thunderbird pilot
U.S. Air Force selects Kyle Oliver ’10 to fly high-performance aircraft
The Air Force has unveiled the names of the six officers — including three pilots — who will join the Thunderbirds demonstration team for the 2020 season.
Among the new officers is Capt. Kyle Oliver, of the 27th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia. He will serve as Thunderbird No. 6 and be the team’s opposing solo pilot, performing maneuvers intended to push the F-16′s capabilities to its limit. Capt. Michelle Curran, who is now serving as opposing solo pilot, will transition to the lead solo position.
Oliver, a native of Beavercreek, earned a B.A. at The Ohio State University in 2010. He was in the Air Force ROTC and the Marching Band during his time as student.
Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, selected the new members of the team, which is officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron.
“This year’s applicant pool featured some of the very finest Air Force leaders, who showcased a remarkable level of skill and motivation,” Lt. Col. John Caldwell, the team’s squadron commander and No. 1 pilot, said. “This was an incredibly difficult choice, but I’m confident we chose the right team to carry on the Thunderbird mission and showcase America’s Air Force.”
In addition to Capt. Oliver, the new officers are:
*Maj. Trevor Aldridge, of the 493rd Fighter Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath in the United Kingdom, who will be the team’s left wing pilot and serve as Thunderbird No. 2. The release said Aldridge will fly as close as three feet from the squadron’s No. 1 jet during formations. Aldridge will replace Maj. Will Graeff.
*Capt. Zane Taylor, of the 8th Fighter Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, will be the team’s slot pilot and serve as Thunderbird No. 4. As slot pilot, Taylor will fly aft of the No. 1 jet, between the two wingmen. He will replace Maj. Whit Collins.
*Maj. Kevin DiFalco, of the 31st Operational Support Squadron at Aviano Air Base in Italy, who will be the team’s operations officer, or No. 7. He will perform air space coordination, ground communication with the pilots in the air, and safety observation, and will replace Maj. Eric Gorney.
*Capt. Katherine Moorkamp, of Air Combat Command headquarters at Langley-Eustis, who will be Thunderbird No. 10, the team’s executive officer. She will lead an executive support staff responsible for the team’s budget, training and force support actions for the squadron commander. She will replace Capt. Lauren Venturini.
*Capt. Remoshay Nelson, of the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea, who will be Thunderbird No. 12, the team’s public affairs officer. She will replace Maj. Ray Geoffroy and handle media relations, community relations and public relations.
This story adapted from the Air Force Times by Stephen Losey. Images courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.