Crashing in Formation

The sky was clear last Monday morning as the Air Force's crack flying team soared above the Nevada desert, practicing its stunts, which have caused gasps at aerial shows for nearly 30 years. At exactly 9:55 a.m. the four Thunderbird pilots went into a "line-abreast loop," a maneuver in which they roar along, wingtip to wingtip, about 100 ft. off the ground, zoom up to 2,500 ft., loop backward into a dive at 400 m.p.h., then pull out when they get back to 100 ft. This time they did not pull out. One jet...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!