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Selfridge bringing the thunder for base’s birthday

The Detroit News

Harrison Township – — Selfridge Air National Guard Base got a small glimpse of what’s in store for its centennial celebration in August.

And it was a doozy.

One of the Thunderbirds, the Air Force Air Demonstration Team, stopped by the base Monday to prepare for the squadron’s performance at the 100th birthday party.

Capt. Erik Gonsalves brought along his ride, a sleek F-16 fighter jet that is nearly as fast as the speed of sound, 700 mph.

Gonsalves’ nickname, naturally, is Speedy.

“We’ll meet with the (base) team, offer advice, answer any questions they have,” he said while posing for photos in front of his white and red jet with stars on its tail.

The entire Thunderbird squad will perform during the Team Selfridge Open House and Air Show planned for Aug. 19 and 20.

Brig. Gen. Doug “Odie” Slocum, commander of the 127th Wing, which has 1,700 members, was on handle to welcome Gonsalves after he landed at the base.

Slocum said he was excited about Gonsalves and his team performing at the centennial.

“It’s nice to have them here. They’re a fantastic air demonstration team with state-of-the-art aircraft,” he said.

The big birds’ performance isn’t the only way Selfridge is celebrating its birthday, said Slocum.

The base is holding a series of events through the year including military band concerts, special events for veterans, and visits and programs at local elementary and high schools, he said.

The base will show off aircraft that date to the opening of the base in 1917, he said.

“It represents where we came from to where we’re going,” he said.