At 87 Buzz Aldrin becomes oldest person to fly with the Thunderbirds

MELBOURNE, Fla. — Famed astronaut Buzz Aldrin may have stolen the Melbourne Air & Space Show on Sunday even before its official start.

At 87, the second man on the moon became the oldest person to fly with the Air Force Thunderbirds. As he was prepped for flight with the elite squad just before 10 a.m. ET, a lucky few were able to take photos and video.

Under his flight suit, Aldrin sported a T-shirt reading "Get your ass to Mars!" — a bold reference to NASA's, and others', efforts to pursue a manned mission to the Red Planet.

Thousands gathered at Orlando Melbourne International Airport over the weekend for a booming display of past and present as dozens of aircraft took to the skies for the annual show.

The biggest draw, the Air Force Thunderbirds — known for their rigorous physical requirements — were saved for last.

Aldrin was in the air for about 20 minutes. He received a round of applause as he flew past the main staging area.

Aldrin was the second man on the moon, piloting the Apollo 11 rocket and following Neil Armstrong onto the lunar surface in 1969. The retired Air Force colonel lives in nearby Satellite Beach and is on staff at the Florida Institute of Technology.

Aldrin's historic flight comes as the Air Force celebrates its 70th year.

It wasn't immediately known where the Thunderbirds took Aldrin or what speeds they reached, though Greg Donovan, executive director of Orlando Melbourne International, said, "Thunderbirds typically fly upwards to 700 miles per hour and today was no exception."

Contributing: Emre Kelly, Florida Today. Follow Wayne T. Price on Twitter: @Fla2dayBiz

Read more:

► Buzz Aldrin really, really wants humans to go to Mars

► Buzz Aldrin wants to be remembered for more than 'kicking up moon dust

► The Apollo 11 capsule is going on an American road trip

► Buzz Aldrin and Bill Nye walk in fashion show

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