Daytona 500 Thunderbirds flyover: USAF's elite air squadron thrills fans at speedway

The world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds returned to Daytona Beach on Monday for the customary flyover for the 66th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

The Great American Race marks the season-opener of the NASCAR Cup Series and the beginning of the show season for the Thunderbirds, which feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons, the Air Force’s premier multirole fighter aircraft.  

This year marks the 14th consecutive and 15th overall appearance of the U.S. Air Force squadron, known as "America’s Ambassadors in Blue."  The elite crew showcased their skills in the signature "Delta" formation over the World Center of Racing at the conclusion of the National Anthem for The Great American Race.

The squadron, including eight (six demonstration pilots) and hundreds of support personnel, is stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.  

The Thunderbirds' 2024 show season includes multiple stops, including the following Florida dates and locations: 


Feb 18: Daytona 500 Flyover - Daytona, FL


March 29-30: Tampa Bay AirFest - MacDill AFB, FL


April 13-14: SUN 'n FUN - Lakeland, FL


May 11-12: Fort Lauderdale Air Show - Fort Lauderdale, FL

The Thunderbirds were officially activated on June 1, 1953, as the 3600th Air Demonstration Team at Luke AFB, Ariz, according to the Air Force. Their first aircraft was the straight-winged F-84G Thunderjet, a combat fighter-bomber that had seen action in Korea.