NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. - The commander of the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, famously known as the Thunderbirds, was relieved last week after the Air Force determined it had "lost confidence" in his leadership style.
Lt. Col. Jason Heard is the first Thunderbirds commander to be relieved of duty.
The Thunderbirds, based at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, are the Air Force's flying aerobatic team. They perform for audiences across the country.
According to an Air Force press release, Heard lead the Thunderbirds "through a highly successful show season," but Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander, "lost confidence in his leadership and risk management style."
"This was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one that is ultimately in the best
interests of the Thunderbird team. I am personally grateful for Jason's dedication to the
2017 season," Leavitt said.
Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, the Thunderbird’s 2016-2017 Operations Officer, has temporarily
assumed responsibility of the team until a new commander is selected.