USAF Thunderbirds Become First Aerial Team To Fly On Alternative Fuel


  Bookmark and Share

USAF Thunderbirds Become First Aerial Team To Fly On Alternative Fuel

By Shane Nolan

May 23, 2011 - Sustainable Oils announced that hydrotreated renewable jet fuel (HRJ) made from its camelina power two Air Force F-16 aircraft as part of a Thunderbirds demonstration flight on Friday at the Joint Services Open House.

It is the first time renewable fuels have ever been used as part of a Department of Defense Aerial Team show. The camelina was grown and harvested in Montana, and refined into renewable jet fuel using technology from UOP, a Honeywell company.

Friday’s “flights mark yet another successful milestone in the commercialization of camelina based aviation fuel. In test after test, camelina-based biofuel continues to perform the same as, or better than, its petroleum counterparts. We, and our growing partners across the country, will continue to support the military's efforts to develop new, sustainable and domestic sources of jet fuel," said Tom Todaro, CEO of Sustainable Oils

According to the Air Force, it has tested and certified biofuel as a 50-percent blend with regular jet fuel in the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the F-15 Eagle, the C-17 Globemaster III, and the F-22 Raptor to date. Air Force officials have stated that fleetwide certification is on track for completion in 2013. Sustainable Oils has provided nearly 500,000 gallons of camelina-based HRJ to multiple branches of the US military for its certification programs, making it the most heavily tested alternative fuel feedstock.

Camelina is the most readily available renewable fuel feedstock that meets the Air Force's criteria given that it does not compete with food crops, has been proven to reduce carbon emissions by more than 70 percent, has naturally high oil content, and requires less fertilizer and herbicides. It is an excellent rotation crop with wheat, and it can also grow on marginal land.

The Thunderbirds are the air demonstration squadron of the U.S. Air Force (USAF), based at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada. The squadron tours the United States and much of the world, performing aerobatic formation and solo flying in specially-marked USAF jet aircraft. The name is taken from the legendary creature that appears in the mythology of several indigenous North American cultures.


Officers serve a two-year assignment with the squadron, while enlisted personnel serve three to four. Replacements must be trained for about half of the team each year, providing a constant mix of experience. The squadron performs no more than 88 air demonstrations each year and has never canceled a demonstration due to maintenance difficulty.

In addition to their air demonstration responsibilities, the Thunderbirds are part of the USAF combat force and if required, can be rapidly integrated into an operational fighter unit. Since February 15, 1974 the Thunderbirds have been a component of the 57th Wing at Nellis AFB.


Sustainable Oils, is a producer and marketer of renewable, environmentally clean, and high-value camelina-based renewable fuels. Sustainable Oils is focused on the continued research and development of dedicated energy crops such as camelina. Sustainable Oils solidly supports both agricultural and green energy initiatives with camelina, which is efficiently and economically grown in rotation with wheat and even on marginal lands, harvested with traditional equipment, and requires minimal water.

Other News Stories (For the latest news please checkout our home page)


Home Aviation News Aviation Stories Of Interest FAA Exam Upcoming Events Links To Other Sites General Aviation Helicopters Medical Factors Facing Pilots
Maintenance and Aircraft Mechanics Hot Air Balloon Aviation Training Handbooks Read Online Aviation History Legal Issues In Aviation Sea Planes Editorials
 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News                                          Bookmark and Share


AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator