On a clear day with plenty of sunshine in St. Joseph, there still was apparent rumblings coming from the skies in the afternoon.

That’s because the United States Air Force’s Thunderbirds made their arrival at the 139th Airlift Wing located at Rosecrans Memorial Airport, two days ahead of the Sound of Speed Airshow.

The Thunderbirds performed a few demonstrations before other Airshow pilots took to the skies for their routines.

During one practice run a pilot had to make a controlled crash on the runway. There were no injuries.

The Twin Beach aircraft had a malfunction with its landing gear and was only able to get one wheel down. The pilot balanced the plane temporarily and slid off the runway into the grass.

No fire was caused in the accident, however the fire department responded in under 60 seconds since they were aware that the controlled crash was taking place.

Military officials on the base reported the pilot was not injured, and the aircraft did not overturn.

To understand some of the things the Thunderbird pilots’ bodies undergo, consider a centrifuge amusement park ride that spins in a circle. The weight put on your body causes you to feel additional gravity. It’s known as g-force.

Major Michael Brewer spoke to News-Press NOW after landing Thunderbird #4.

“The F-16 is capable of 9 gs, and so our demo actually displays some of that,” Brewer said. “It’s nine times the force of gravity, so you’re really fighting the gorilla that is sitting on your lap, and so your face distorts.

Mosaic Life Care Chief Medical Officer Dr. Davin Turner rode with Thunderbird #7 Lt. Col. Kevin DiFalco. He’s the Thunderbirds director of operations.

Turner has largely been involved in the fight against COVID-19, from the early days of responding to the outbreak, to planning a mass vaccination site that is responsible for giving around 30,000 doses of the vaccine to date.

He spoke to News-Press NOW ahead of his flight.

“Exciting, exciting, nothing like getting strapped into a rocket with wings,” Dr. Turner said. “I watched videos on how to breathe and hopefully not pass out or throw up.”

Other notable performances at the Airshow include a B52 flyover, Shetterly Squadron, Jim Pietz Aerobatic Bonanza, Aftershock Jet Truck, C-130 Airdrop Demonstration, among others to lead into the main act of the USAF Thunderbirds.

Ryan Hennessy can be reached at ryan.hennessy@newspressnow.com. Follow him on twitter: @NPNowHennessy.

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