A 'thunderous' return home

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Victor J. Caputo
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Even as the long line began to dwindle, Capt. Blaine Jones continued to greet people with a smile that reached across his defined jawline, and the enthusiasm of someone who truly enjoys what they do.

Blaine, a U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron Thunderbirds pilot, was signing autographs and taking pictures with military personnel and their families who watched a Thunderbirds practice flight in preparation for the Wings Over McConnell open house and air show Sept. 28, 2012.

Originating from Kingman, Kan., Blaine was very excited to perform so close to home and to give his family a chance to see his talents first-hand.

"Everyone is going to be here," said Blaine. "It's going to be cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, nephews, nieces... we're going to take over the Thunderbirds set!"

Out of the dozens of air shows he has performed at, he thinks that this one will be his favorite for that reason, he said.

Blaine joined the Air Force in 2002 and has been a member of the Thunderbirds for one year.

"This job is awesome. Absolutely incredible," he said. "Being able to fly in the shows like this is a blast."

While being in the air is an exhilarating feeling, Blaine also enjoys being able to spread the Air Force mission and to interacting with different communities.

"I love getting to work with [groups] like Make A Wish [Foundation]," he said. "I can go out and talk to high school kids from different areas. Whether it's around McConnell, in California or Maine; I love getting to meet all these different people."

Blaine spent some time after his practice flight to speak to young Airmen about career choices, being a pilot and life in the Air Force.

"He was inspiring to say the least," said Airman 1st Class Stephan LaMothe, 22nd Logistics Plans Shop logistics planner.. "I'm currently trying to put together a submission package to the U.S. Air Force Academy, and seeing someone who started out in a similar situation really pushes me to accomplish my goal."

Blaine pilots the no. 6 aircraft on the team. He specializes as the opposing solo plane during demonstrations.

The Thunderbirds will be performing at the air show and open house on both Sept. 29 and 30 as the closing act. For more information, go to www.mcconnellairshow.com or follow McConnell on Facebook.