VANDALIA, Ohio (WDTN) – Friday, ahead of their performance at the Dayton Air Show, the United States Air Force Thunderbirds invited a Dayton Police Officer to ride in their jets as part of the hometown hero flight.
Officer Ryan Nabel was chosen, he is one of the six officers who quickly sprung to action to stop the Oregon District shooter, saving countless lives in August of 2019.
“Looking down and seeing the clouds its beautiful…And I don’t really use that term very often but it was different,” Officer Nabel said of the flight.
Major Jason Markzon was the pilot for the flight. He said they traveled at 9 G-force and did several flips and tricks that were gravity-defying and exhilarating.
For the Thunderbird pilots, at least 750 hours of training are needed to be on the team. For Officer Nabel’s first flight, he was sure to stay hydrated and nourished before taking on the extreme pressure and speed of the flight in the fighter jet.
“Officer Nabel did awesome,” said Major Markzon, “He had an absolute blast. It was just a bunch of smiles and laughter the whole time.”
Hometown Heroes are chosen by the Thunderbirds at each of their performance destinations for their amazing feats of bravery and sacrifice.
“This is probably one of the best parts of my job,” said Major Markzon. “To give back to these humble heroes who aren’t expecting any notoriety. Ryan, he’s a law enforcement officer so its a little bit expected for the job. But you never know what you’re going to do when presented the circumstances and he showed true bravery and courage and he’s a real American hero.”
Officer Nabel says he feels honored to have been chosen.
“For me to be chosen out of all of the guys it’s a lifetime experience,” he shared. “So it means more than anything I can really imagine.”