This weekend, the United States Air Force's Thunderbirds will roar overhead as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Vermont Air National Guard. Like the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels, the Thunderbirds are some of the most elite fighter pilots in the Air Force - and one of its most effective and high-profile recruitment tools. After repeated calls to the Thunderbirds' public affairs office went unanswered, Seven Days did its own digging to get the lowdown on these high-flying birds of prey.
$28 million Approximate cost of each Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon
809 Number of F-16s currently in use by the Air Force, Air National Guard and Reserve
1500 mph Maximum speed of F-16 (Mach 2)
130 Approximate number of personnel assigned to Thunderbirds squadron
72 Hours needed to return each aircraft to combat status
7200 Gallons of jet fuel expended during one air-show demonstration
6000 Gallons of fuel needed for the C-130 Hercules support aircraft
440 Gallons of smoke oil expended during one air-show demonstration
30-50% Estimated amount of total U.S. airspace now occupied by the military
12 Minimum number of non-combat-related F-16 crashes in 2006
April 5, 2006 Most recent crash of a U.S.-operated F-16, off the coast of Charleston, S.C.
6 Days elapsed time since the previous crash, in the Great Salt Lake, Utah
Protests against the military-entertainment industry are scheduled in Burlington for Friday, August 18, 11:30 a.m. at BankNorth, Main Street; Saturday, August 19, at 10:30 a.m. at the Waterfront and at 4 p.m. in Battery Park.