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Thunderbird advance pilot conducts site survey


Air Force Thunderbird jet #8, flown by Maj. Jason Markzon, taxis at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Jan. 16. Markzon, the advance pilot and narrator for the Thunderbirds Flight Demonstration Squadron, visited Edwards to conduct a site survey and plane-side press conference ahead of their participation with the 2020 Aerospace Valley Air Show, Oct. 10-11. (Air Force photo by Giancarlo Casem)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Air Force Thunderbirds Flight Demonstration Squadron pilot, Maj. Jason Markzon conducted a site visit to Edwards Air Force Base, California, Jan. 16.

The visit was conducted in preparation for the Thunderbirds’ performance later this year during the 2020 Aerospace Valley Air Show.

“We go out to site visits to places we haven’t been to in a while, typically greater than five years is going to warrant a visit,” Markzon said. “We’re out here to kind of just check out the airfield and make sure the air show planners got a crew going and help them out if there’s any issues.”

Prior to his visit of various base facilities and briefs with air show officials, Markzon performed a couple of fly-bys, roughly 500 feet above the flightline. After landing, Markzon conducted short interviews with local news agencies at a plane-side press conference.

“Our mission is to recruit, retain and inspire,” he said. “Our job is to just go and really focus on the kids and talk to them about the opportunities that the Air Force has to offer and try to inspire the next generation.”

Markzon also said that the air show at Edwards will also carry historic significance.

“It’s definitely bringing everything full circle coming back to Edwards, this is the test bed, the birth of the test community,” Markzon said. “Everything happens here on all the different aircraft, so it’s pretty awesome to bring an airplane like this back to Edwards where it all started.”