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Markzon

Florida International Air Show is coming up Nov. 1-3 at Punta Gorda Airport. The Sun asked the performers this year to answer some questions about themselves and the future of airshows.

Here’s what they had to say:

Name: Maj. Jason Markzon (USAF Thunderbirds)

Hometown: Tucson, AZ

Age: 35

What drew you to flying and how old were you during your first solo flight?

I was always mesmerized by the stars and sky and interested in astronomy. This led me to looking into becoming an astronaut. After seeing that many astronauts had US Air Force pilot experience I started researching how to become an Air Force pilot. I eventually decided that this was the career path I wanted while I was going to school at Arizona State University and in the AFROTC program. My first solo flight was when I was 22 years old and I was working towards my private pilot’s license.

How does flying and performing make you feel?

I am completely thrilled by the type of flying that we do as Thunderbirds. While I don’t fly in the demonstration, I have sat in the backseat during many of the practices and have chased the demonstration during a photo chase mission. I am continually impressed at the precision our pilots have and the perfect execution while they perform the maneuvers during the demonstration. It truly is remarkable!

What do you think air shows will look like 100 years from now?

I know I won’t be around in 100 years, so take this with a grain of salt. I think we’ll have excellent operators flying some sort of drone type aircraft in precise formation.

How many air shows have you flown in, and do you have a favorite show or appearance so far? If so, what sets it apart?

I haven’t flown in any air shows, but I have narrated just about every show we’ve performed. They all have different challenges but I really enjoy our beach shows because there is a huge crowd and I can really feel the energy from the crowd when our jets fly over. One of our most unique shows this year was when we performed in Colombia, South America. We did the narration in Spanish and the crowd was incredible!

Is there anything you want to do in Southwest Florida before or after you perform here? If so, what’s on your list?

The show in Punta Gorda this year is special because it’s our last show on the road. It’s really the culmination of our entire season and I know our team is really excited about closing out our season in Florida. It will be nice to relax and celebrate the end of our show season in a warm climate with good friends. Although, I did hear there are some nice golf courses in the area.

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