Air Force Thunderbirds cancel Cheyenne show for safety concerns after emergency landing in Colorado in 2022

Due to construction at the Cheyenne Regional Airport, the Thunderbirds don't plan on performing in Cheyenne this year.
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 12:29 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2023 at 7:14 PM MST
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (KKTV) - The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have decided performing in Cheyenne in 2023 is too risky, according to a news release from the 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs.

The decision is tied to the “lack of an approved emergency landing airfield nearby.” The Cheyenne Regional Airport has been under construction for several years. In order to perform in Cheyenne in 2021 and 2022, the Thunderbirds had to fly out of an airfield in Fort Collins.

“The closure of the large runway in Cheyenne is a key factor in this decision. After much discussion and consideration, cancelling the show for 2023 is the best way to ensure the safety of our community and the Thunderbirds,” said Col. Catherine Barrington, 90 MW commander. “While we are sad to discontinue our airshow, we understand the risk that comes with performing and are grateful to the Thunderbirds for their many years of support.”

After an airshow in 2022, one of the Thunderbirds had to conduct an emergency landing in Fort Collins because of a hydraulic leak. The leak ended up spilling fluids across the airfield after it landed so the rest of the team had to diver to DIA airspace and land at Buckley Space Force Base.

“The team made the difficult decision, due to safety and logistics challenges operating deployed from Colorado, to not return to Cheyenne’s airshow this season,” said Lt. Col. Justin Elliott, Thunderbird 1 and team commander/leader. “While disheartened to part with this important tradition, we hope to see a fully-constructed runway allowing our safe return to Wings Over Warren in the future.”

For updates on the Thunderbirds 2023 schedule, click here.