Lt. Col. Jason Heard Relieved of Duties as Thunderbirds Commander
The United States Air Force has announced that they have relieved Lt. Col. Jason Heard of duties as commander of their flight demonstration squadron.
Lt. Col. Jason Heard took over as Commander of the Thunderbirds at the beginning of 2017, and led the team through a highly successful 2017 show season consisting of 72 demonstrations at 39 show sites. However, the 2017 season did consist of a mishap in Dayton, Ohio in which Thunderbird 8 overturned during landing in dangerous weather conditions.
Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing commander, states that she "lost confidence in his leadership and risk management style," and that "concerns arose that his approach to leading the team was resulting in increased risk within the demonstration which eroded team dynamic."
Furthermore, Leavitt stated "This was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one that is ultimately in the best interests of the Thunderbirds team." Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, who served as the team's operation officer in 2016 and 2017, has temporarily assumed leadership until a new commander is selected.