The Thunderbirds return to Cleveland, putting on a show for local students

Arriving just before 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 31, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds could be seen long before they were heard as the headliners for the Cleveland National Air Show returned to Cleveland.

According to the U.S. Air Force website, The Thunderbirds perform all across the world, flying their multi-role fighter jets, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and showcasing “the pride, precision and professionalism the U.S. Air Force represents.”

The Air Force reports that F-16’s can withstand up to nine times the force of gravity and flies speeds between 120 and 700 miles per hour. 

CSU students may observe parts of practice on Friday for free on campus between classes or while sitting in the courtyard. Weather permitting, the planes will also fly over campus during the air show throughout Labor Day weekend.

More noticeable than the view, however, is the noise which follows seconds after each plane passes.

One F-16 Fighting Falcon flies over Krenzler Field around 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 1. Photo credits: Sean Armen

On Thursday, Aug. 31, planes flew around 9:40 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. On Friday, Sept. 1, planes flew around 11:30 a.m., with a practice run scheduled 2-4 p.m. The Thunderbirds are scheduled to close the air show each day around 4:30 p.m. flying the F-16’s. 

The Cleveland National Air Show takes place from Sept. 2 through Sept. 4 at Burke Lakefront Airport, but the F-16 Fighting Falcons will land at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport because those jets require a longer runway.

The F-16 was demonstrated at the 2022 Cleveland Air Show, though the U.S. Navy Blue Angels headlined the show flying F/A-18 Super Hornets. 

Tickets to the 2023 Cleveland National Air Show and on-site parking must be purchased in advance here. No sales will be conducted at the gate. Adult tickets are $35 plus fees, while youth tickets are $20 plus fees.