USAF Thunderbirds officially have new commander

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh assumed command of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds during a Wednesday ceremony at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

Walsh will fly the No. 1 jet and lead all demonstration flights that highlight the power and precision of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, according to the Thunderbirds’ website.

>> Air Force picks new Thunderbirds leader after former commander removed

The Long Island, N.Y., native also will oversee 130 service members.

He replaces Lt. Col. Jason Heard who was removed last month after his commanding officer said he “lost confidence in his leadership and risk management style,” according to an Air Force statement.

They said it was not related to a Thunderbird jet mishap in Dayton. On. June 23, a two-seat fighter jet slid off a wet runway in a rainstorm and overturned in a grassy area at the Dayton International Airport. A pilot was injured during the single aircraft “familiarization flight.”

>> Excessive speed to blame for Thunderbird crash in Dayton

Walsh, a former F-16 weapons tactics instructor, has served with the Thunderbirds for two years and has more than 2,600 flying hours in the cockpit, the Air Force said.

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