Vance instructor pilot joins father at airshow in Maryland

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Cassidy Fisher
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- An instructor pilot at Vance Air Force Base jumped on the opportunity of a lifetime to be a guest at an airshow right next to her dad. 

1st Lt. Christy Thorstenson, a first assignment instructor pilot assigned to the 25th Flying Training Squadron, flew one of Vance’s T-38C Talon heritage jets to the Joint Base Andrews Air & Space Expo, Sept. 17-18, in Maryland. 

Thorstenson talked with Expo guests about being a pilot, the T-38’s capabilities and the life of being an Air Force instructor pilot.

However, she wasn’t the only Thorstenson invited. Her dad, Michael, flew to the Expo with her mom, Joanne, and parked the family-owned North American T-28 Trojan a few planes down from Christy’s T-38. 

“It was an incredible moment to do a show together,” Christy said. 

It is easy to see, Christy Thorstenson comes from an aviation family. Her dad, Michael Thorstenson, is an American Airlines pilot, a test pilot for Lockheed Martin and a retired Navy C-130 aviator. Michael also restores planes to take around the country to airshows.

Her mom, Joanne Thorstenson, is an American Airlines flight attendant on her way to becoming a pilot herself. Christy’s parents met when her dad was piloting a trip for American Airlines and her mom was the flight attendant on the aircraft.

Growing up, Christy and her mom went to airshows her dad performed in. Being surrounded by aviation inspired Christy to pursue it for herself. 

“What made me really want to fly was growing up around the community and seeing him made me realize it was something I really wanted to do,” she said.

According to a fact sheet from the Hurlburt Field (Florida) website, “The North American Aviation T-28 Trojan, in 1948, won the competition for the next generation pilot training aircraft. It became the first all-new, post-World War II trainer.

“However, plans to utilize it for both basic and advanced training had to be changed when it became apparent the speed and power of the T-28s challenged new cadets too soon. Modifications to North American's pre-World War II T-6 Texan, with its smaller engine, served Air Force needs for basic training through the Korean War.” 

Christy Thorstenson said that it was a unique opportunity to team up with her dad and show expo guests the progression of pilot training aircraft through the years, especially with her dad being an instructor in the T-28 and her being an instructor in the T-38. 

She said there was a group of second graders surrounding her dad at the Expo. He told them, “Do you see that pilot over there?” pointing to Christy. “That’s the best pilot in the Air Force.”

The group ran over to her and started asking her all types of questions ranging from “How do I become a pilot?” to “Where did you get your pilot sunglasses?” 

“This aviation thing is for everybody,” Christy said. “It’s not only an incredible hobby but also an incredible lifestyle and community.” That community played a huge role in Christy’s upbringing, and she gives back by encouraging future aviators to be a part of it and see what it’s all about. 

“I want these kids to be able to see themselves becoming pilots and having a community that is encouraging and never makes them feel out of place. I really hope to be for other people what my parents were for me,” Christy said.