Influenced by the folklore and strong regional Native American culture of the Southwest, the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron was named the Thunderbirds in 1953. Native Americans often depicted the thunderbird in burnt outlines and drawings on buckskin.
The emblem for the Air Demonstration Unit was created by its first solo pilot, Lt. Bob McCormick, based on the image of those early drawings by Native Americans. McCormick developed the patch with a white disc that includes a drawing of the ancient Native American god with a yellow beak and an eye above a “Thunderbirds” inscription. The thunderbird is surmounted by a red circle with a five-point white star in the center.
The author, Carl Buhler, has nearly 30 years of military experience, as an Air Force brigadier general. Early in his Air Force career, Carl Buhler served as a maintenance officer with the Thunderbirds.