In Episode 86 of the Aerospace Advantage podcast, So You Want to be a Thunderbird? Insider Perspectives, Mitchell Institute’s John “Slick” Baum is joined by John “JV” Venable of the Heritage Foundation, former commander in the Thunderbirds, and Caroline “Blaze” Jensen, former right wing in the Thunderbirds, to reflect upon their years as members of the Air Force’s famed aerial demonstration unit. We all know the public façade—the incredible flying, polished personas, and famed liveries. However, not many people know what it’s like to execute at this intense pace day-after-day on a national stage. This conversation between three veteran Thunderbirds looks at what it’s like to be on the team from an individual perspective. Flying skills are obviously crucial, but it takes a whole lot more to succeed as a member of this group. JV was selected in 1999 to command the Thunderbirds, and was on point for every practice, deployment, and air show for the 2000 and 2001 seasons. Blaze flew the right wing position for the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons. Slick flew the left wing position during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, which included an international tour in Asia.
Host: Lt Col (Ret.) John “Slick” Baum, Senior Fellow, The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies
Co-host: Heather “Lucky” Penney, Senior Fellow, The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies
Producer: Daniel C. Rice
Producer: Shane Thin
Executive Producer: Douglas Birkey
Guest: Col (Ret.) John “JV” Venable, Senior Research Fellow, Defense Policy, Center for National Defense
Guest: Lt Col (Ret.) Caroline “Blaze” Jensen, National WASP WWII Museum Board Member