WATCH: Behind the scenes with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds

WATCH: Behind the scenes with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. - When they aren't performing their impressive maneuvers high above the nation, the premiere flying demonstration team goes home to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. 

It's the "Home of the Fighter Pilot" and the home of the Thunderbirds. 

When the six F-16 jets land, that's when the hard work begins. 

It's not just the six pilots that you see flying in air shows in their red, white and blue painted F-16s it's actually 120 other people that help make their shows happen. 

"It's a little more difficult when you're six foot, two inches," Assistant Dedicated Crew Chief, Staff Sgt. Bryson Schuster said. 

Schuster is assigned to Maj. Nick Krajicek's number four jet, putting in rigorous attention to detail to fix every problem. 

"There's not many jobs that we do that one person does it and it's good to go," Schuster said. 

Each spot on the team is selected from a group of applicants. Making every member one of the top in their field. 

"In every single day, we're putting our lives in each other's hands," lead solo pilot No. 5, Maj. Alex Turner said. 

The pressure is on every shift for each crew member to get their job done accurately. 

"We walk out and we climb right into the jet without even doing a walk around which in any other squadron in the Air Force is unheard of," Turner said.

The Thunderbirds demonstration isn't risk- free. The jets can fly as close as 18 inches apart during their most dangerous maneuvers. 

"You really have to trust that person next to you. And knowing that the person is going to come through for you is what gives you that confidence to fly that close," left wing pilot, No. 2 Maj. Ryan Bodenheimer said. 

"Concentration-- you always have to be on. If any time, any one of the members of the flight did not feel up to it physically or mentally they would immediately not fly that show or that position,"  Krajicek said. 

Just last year Turner crashed after the flyover at the Air Force Academy graduation. KRDO NewsChannel 13 talked with Turner for the first time on camera. 

"There is a couple seconds of just disbelief you know of is this happening right now? and you look at the engine stack and you see that your worst fear that your worst suspicion is confirmed," Turner said. 

Hear more from Turner on Wednesday as he tells his story of ejecting and crash landing his jet. 

But it was the team, from maintainers to the air crew flight equipment team that packed Turner's parachute right that helped keep Turner safe. 

"The aircrew flight equipment motto is, 'We're the last to let you down'" Technical Sgt. Paul Rosales said. "What we happen to do, again, is to make sure that the actual individual is 100 percent safe and ready to fly." 

The Thunderbird's sole mission is to recruit by flying around the country and the world, to show off the power of the United States Air Force. 

"There's a special moment that happens when you talk to a kid letting them know that they can do anything they want to if they work hard," Bodenheimer said. 

The constant travel takes up most of their free time while on the team.

"We actually spend more time away from our families, than we do with them. We're on the road about 220 days out of the year," Krajicek said. 


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