by Adrienne Foster Potter

Copyright Dec. 1984 by Adrienne Foster Potter

All rights reserved

Based on the true story of a Air Force Thunderbird Pilot Nick Hauck, who went down with his plane at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah on May 9, 1981, in order to avoid crashing into 100,000 people. 

Did you know when you left the ground that day

That things were going to end that way?--

Deep down inside your soul did you feel the vibes?

But you don't say a single word;  

You simply climb inside your bird

And do your beautiful dances through the sky.

Thunderbird is that you in the sky

Flying up above the sun so high?

Doing loops and spins and then you dive--

Thunderbird your playground is the sky.

One hundred thousand pairs  of eyes 

are staring at the sunny skies;

a hundred thousand voices suddenly hush,

As we see your plane disappear

And see a cloud of smoke appear

And sirens blow and the trucks and ambulance rush.

Your comrades hear your last goodbye

And see  your bird drop from the sky;

And all of them pray that you'll escape the flames.

You have an awful choice to make--

The lives of thousands are at stake

And  you, you choose to go down inside your plane.

Thunderbird is that you in the sky?--

Flying up above the sun so high.

Thunderbird it makes me want to cry;

Thunderbird you're way too young to die.

So Thunderbird  you saved our lives,

The children, fathers and their wives,

With courage that somehow through the years still thrives.

You could have let your T-Bird fall

Into the crowd and burn us all.

You're gone but Thunderbird what you did survives.

Your buddies knew the end had come--

They passed the crash site one by one,

And then we all saw the Thunderbirds regroup.

A wing formation in the air

But where you would have been was bare

As your buddies sadly gave their last salute.

Thunderbird is that you in the sky--

Flying up above the sun so high?

A hundred thousand hearts are asking why

Today we had to watch a hero die.

A hundred thousand hearts are asking why

Beautiful Thunderbird, did you have to die?

No. of  Thunderbird Fans: Hit Counter 

Note from the Author: According to sealed top-secret Air Force documents (information obtained from the late Lt. Col. A.G. Foster--my dad) the cause of the crash was engine burn-out...i.e. engine failure.  I  was there that day and witnessed the crash, which happened around 4:00 p.m., and I saw 100,000 devastated faces. I was inspired to write this poem because I dreamed about a fiery crash the night before the air show took place. The dream was so vivid it woke me up at around 4:00 a.m. and I will never forget that day.  Adrienne Potter

Photo by
Thunderbird pilot, Capt. Nick Hauck, signs autographs shortly before his final flight he died when his aircraft crashed south of the runway during a low approach in the 1981 show. The Thunderbirds flew T-38 Talons, above, for the 1976 and 1981 shows.

Thunderbird pilot crashed, died at Hill in 1981; spectators respect risk

Date: June 12, 2004
Publication: Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT)
HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- On May 9, 1981, before a crowd of 90,000 people, U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Capt. David L. "Nick" Hauck was killed when his T-38 apparently flamed out and crashed in a Layton field.

Hauck, who heroically brought the falling plane down 250 yards south of the Hill Air Force Base runway and clear of onlookers, is the only pilot who has died during the 20 stunt-filled air shows performed there by the U.S. Air Force, said Dave Kendziora, historian...

Read another story about a famous hero (Horatius)

Read the story of the Dunkirk Rescue (Snow Goose)

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