Thunder Tigers Aerobatic Team was purposefully established for refining airmen’s flight skills, developing esprit de corps, solidifying faith in victory, and carrying forward the motto of “being loyal and brave,” epitomized in ROCAF’s glorious past of being the few to fight the many. Over the years, Thunder Tighers had used F-84G Thunderjet, F-86F Sabre, F-5A Freedom Fighter, and F-5E Tiger II, to perform outstanding low-flying aerobatics.
When a domestically developed advanced trainer, AT-3, was commissioned, the ROCAF Academy was instructed to operate the new platform to perform aerobatics in order to demonstrate our technological progress in defense and our exceptional flying skills. Starting from March 1988, the Academy had conducted candidate selection, performance validation of AT-3, and a tough training regime provided by active members of Thunder Tigers. Then on 1st November 1988, the Academy completed all the preparation and the conversion training for Thunder Tigers, and became the official unit to host the Team.
The Establishment of Thunder Tigers
Thunder Tigers Aerobatic Team was officially debut on the Air Force Day in 1954. At a time, full of external threats and internal challenges faced by our nation, the ROCAF didn’t have favorable conditions to accommodate a demonstration team. A few ROCAF pilot trainees in the U.S. saw the impressive performance of the USAF Thunderbirds, and decided to dedicate themselves to following suit. Afterwards, they came back and demonstrated their refined aerobatic skills on the occasion of the Air Force Day in 1954, and had won a wide acclamation among the public. Their team effort was recognized and supported by General Wang Shuming, Commander-in-Chief of the ROCAF, who officially gave the name Thunder Tigers Aerobatic Team of the ROCAF to them.
Glorious Past of Thunder Tigers
Many countries have a similar flight demonstration team, such as Thunderbirds of the U.S., Red Arrows of the U.K., Diavoli Rossi of Italy, Patrouille de France, and Double Dutch of the Netherlands. During its early years, Thunder Tigers Aerobatic Team did perform competitively with those renowned aerobatic teams; especially with its remarkable and dangerous “bomb burst,” demonstrated by 12 F-86s in the airshow of the World Aviation Conference in 1959, the Team dazzled all the audience and won its fame. Basked in its fabled reputation in the following decades, Thunder Tigers went to many countries to perform on behalf of the nation, and exhibited their aerobatics in front of foreign dignitaries during events of significance in-country to cheer the crowds and boost up the morale of the people.