Lloyd W. “Fig” Newton is a retired United States Air Force 4-star general who served as Commander, Air Education and Training Command (COMAETC) from 1997 to 2000. He was also the first African-American pilot in the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. During General Newton’s time in the Thunderbirds, local aviation icon, General Dan Cherry, was leader of the performance group.
General Newton was educated at Tennessee State University, earning a bachelor of science degree in aviation education. He was commissioned as a distinguished graduate through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program in 1966.
After completing pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, in June 1967, he attended F-4D qualification training at George Air Force Base, California. He flew 269 combat missions from Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam, including 79 missions over North Vietnam. Newton was selected to join the U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, in November 1974. He held several positions including narrator, slot pilot and right wingman.
From 1978 to 1982 he was assigned as an Air Force congressional liaison officer with the U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. He has commanded three wings and an air division, and held numerous staff positions. From 1993 to 1995 he was director of operations, J-3, United States Special Operations Command. Newton was a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours in the T-37, T-38, F-4, F-15, F-16, C-12 and F-117 stealth fighter.
General Newton was the special guest of the 2019 Hangar Party.
Gen. Cherry said, “Traditionally, when the Thunderbirds take off for an airshow, they do it in fingertip formation with #4, the Slot Pilot, on the outside right. As soon as numbers 1, 2 & 3 get airborne, then #4 moves aggressively to the Slot position forming the famous Thunderbird Diamond formation. The picture above shows such a move and that’s General Newton, our guest of honor at this year’s Hangar Party, flying #4. Note how close his left wing tip is to the runway. He was the best.”
And after the move, here is what the diamond formation should look like: