Enders to ride with USAF Thunderbirds

Enders to ride with United States Air Force Thunderbirds HOUSTON (Jan. 26) -- Pro Stock star Erica Enders will be a special guest of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds during the elite flying group's 60th anniversary season in 2007. Enders...

Enders to ride with United States Air Force Thunderbirds

HOUSTON (Jan. 26) -- Pro Stock star Erica Enders will be a special guest of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds during the elite flying group's 60th anniversary season in 2007. Enders is tentatively scheduled for a ride-along in a Thunderbirds F-16C with one of the world's best pilots in the day's following the first Las Vegas race in April.

When not traveling the world on behalf of the USAF, the Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron is stationed out of Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, which is adjacent to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the desert north of town.

"I'm so excited about this opportunity that I find it really hard to explain," Enders said. "My dad was in the Air Force so it's the branch of the military we know the best. Growing up, we never missed an Air Show, especially when the Thunderbirds were performing. You never even dream that one day you'll get to ride in one of their planes."

Originally stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, the name "Thunderbirds" was chosen in part by the strong Indian culture and folklore of the southwestern United States where Luke is located. Indian legend speaks of the Thunderbird with great fear and respect. Nothing in nature could challenge the bird of thunder, the story said, and no man could stand against its might. The story of the Thunderbird was repeated, voice-by-voice, across the generations, until at last, it assumed the immortality of legend.

"None of this would be possible without Brian Lihani," Enders said. "Brian served in the Air Force for many years. He's a big drag racing fan and is the one responsible for bringing special groups of drag racers to Cheyenne Mountain and NORAD every year before the Denver race. He asked me if I'd be interested in riding with the Thunderbirds and it took me about .001 second to say yes.

"I know this is the opportunity of a lifetime and I feel really lucky that they've invited me to ride along with the Thunderbirds. The United States Air Force is the best in the world and I'm honored to have this chance."

-credit: enders racing

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Series NHRA