A-10 East Demonstration Team flies with new pilot

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brigitte N. Brantley-Sisk
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Moody's A-10 East Demonstration Team performs for crowds all over the world with a goal of showcasing the A-10C Thunderbolt II's extreme capabilities of performing exceptional aerial maneuvers.

Now, Capt. Dylan "Habu" Thorpe is the new face of the team since current pilot Maj. Johnnie "Dusty" Green will soon move on to another assignment.

"I have enjoyed every moment of being the team's captain and I wouldn't trade these two years for anything," said Major Green, who will soon be going to Osan Air Base, Korea. "The public isn't aware of most of what the A-10 can do and it's been great showing off everything this workhorse is capable of."

The major added that he is happy to pass the reins over to Captain Thorpe, especially considering what he saw during initial training.

"I have total faith that Captain Thorpe will do great in this job," said Major Green, who performed his final flight Nov. 13 during the Community Appreciation Day Air Show. "He's got the personality needed for it and in the training we've completed so far, he's also shown he has the technical proficiency for it."

Captain Thorpe's proficiency will be thoroughly examined during his final certification, which is scheduled for Nov. 30. During the certification, he has to be approved by the 23rd Wing commander.

This day was a long time coming; ever since the captain was young, he has been fascinated with aircraft.

"I grew up near the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado and flying has always intrigued me," said Captain Thorpe. "When I was little, my dad would take me to the nearby airport in Colorado Springs and we would just watch aircraft land and take off."

Now, Captain Thorpe will be in control of the aircraft taking off. During the approximately 15-minute demonstration, he will lead the A-10C through various maneuvers aimed at showcasing what the aircraft can do.

These maneuvers include a vertical 540, during which the aircraft makes a flat pass over the airfield, shoots straight up and then spins. Another is the four-point turn, which involves making and holding four 90-degree turns which result in a full circle.

"The whole time in the air, you're body is enduring a lot of gravity and it takes a toll on the body," said Captain Thorpe. "The past few weeks of training have been very challenging, including working on timing and the little touches that make for good showmanship, but it's worth it. I'm excited to be representing the aircraft and the wing.

"A lot of people we encounter at the airshows think this aircraft retired a while ago," he added. "They're surprised to hear that it's actually being used by our Airmen right now in combat situations."

Captain Thorpe accompanied Major Green to many airshows this past summer, both as a safety observer and to learn how the process works.

"Major Green is very well-respected in the air show circuit," said the captain. "He's done very well in the past two years and I know I have big shoes to fill.

"Also, an important part of the team's success is due to the support team," Captain Thorpe added. "The team chiefs and maintainers make sure this 30-year old aircraft runs perfectly and looks as good as it did the day it rolled out of the factory."

The A-10 East Demonstration Team performs at about 30 air shows a year, the majority of which fall between March and November.