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Thunderbird commander fired due to safety, leadership concerns

Posted at 2:06 PM, Nov 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-29 21:12:22-05

The Thunderbirds are synonymous with Las Vegas and Nellis Air Force Base, which is why news of a change of leadership is a major talking point today.

The Thunderbirds have long amazed crowds with their flying but like in many forms of entertainment, safety has become the top priority.

Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57thWing Commander, relieved Lt. Col. Jason Heard of command of the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron on Nov. 20. Leavitt is said to have lost confidence in his leadership and risk management style.

This comes just months after a practice crash at the Dayton Air Showmade National headlines.

Leavitt determined that new leadership was necessary to ensure the highest levels of pride, precision, and professionalism within the team.

"This was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one that is ultimately in the best interests of the Thunderbird team.  I am personally grateful for Jason's dedication to the 2017 season," Leavitt said.

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh has temporarily assumed the responsibility of the team until a new commander is selected.