In Pictures: Buzz Aldrin Flies with the US Air Force's Thunderbirds

Preparing for Liftoff

USAF Thunderbirds

At age 87, the second person to walk on the moon is still breaking records and flying high. Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin flew with the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Thunderbirds during the Melbourne Air & Space Show in Orlando, Florida on April 2 and became the oldest person to fly with the aerobatic team.

Aerospace Magic

USAF Thunderbirds

The USAF Thunderbirds are one of the oldest aerobatic demonstration teams in the world, and have been flying since 1953.

Rocket Men

USAF Thunderbirds

The USAF Thunderbirds flew over the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral in Florida during the demonstration.

Thunderbird Jet

USAF Thunderbirds

A close-up of a USAF Thunderbird jet. Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, 87, passed rigorous physical requirements to take part in the demonstration.

Aldrin Takes Another Historic Flight

USAF Thunderbirds

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, left, receives help preparing for a flight with the USAF Thunderbirds April 2. Aldrin is a retired Air Force colonel. At 87, Aldrin is the oldest person to participate in a Thunderbirds demonstration.

Celebrating Flight

USAF Thunderbirds

Buzz Aldrin poses with members of the USAF Thunderbirds.

Flight Through Space History

USAF Thunderbirds

The USAF Thunderbirds leave contrails in their wake as they fly past Launch Complex 39A, where Apollo 11 launched. Buzz Aldrin, flying with them, was part of Apollo 11's historic flight to the moon. In the background is the Vehicle Assembly Building, where the Apollo 11 rocket was assembled before going to space.

Honoring the Past

USAF Thunderbirds

Another view of the Vehicle Assembly Building — where Apollo 11's Saturn V rocket was put together — as the USAF Thunderbirds fly overhead.

Space Odyssey

USAF Thunderbirds

The USAF Thunderbirds fly over Florida's Space Coast April 2.


USAF Thunderbirds

Buzz Aldrin jokingly called himself "ThunderBuzz" on Twitter after flying with members of the USAF Thunderbirds on April 2.

Meeting the Team

USAF Thunderbirds

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin (in gray suit) shakes hands with members of the USAF Thunderbirds.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: