DAYTON — The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds roared into Dayton International Airport on Monday afternoon in anticipation this weekend’s Vectren Dayton Air Show.
Before landing, the Air Force’s flight demonstration team flew patterns for around 15 minutes over Vandalia.
Major Ryan Bodenheimer, the Left Wing Pilot of the Thunderbirds, said the team hopes to inspire those who watch the team fly. He said he is often flying just 2-1/2 feet from the other planes.
“When we are flying over Dayton and see people pull over to watch us or see them in window they will be inspired themselves because they see the absolute precision with how we fly these jets and the passion we have,” said Bodenheimer. “I think that translates directly into other people’s lives in whatever they are doing. They walk away from these air shows a little more inspired to be a better version of themselves.”
He said the team has three main goals.
“The team is all about inspiring people, honoring the veterans that have come before us, and recruiting,” he said. “For me, being able to go out and fly these jets and inspire kids and adults of all ages is a really special thing.”
Bodenheimer grew up in Colorado Springs, CO and came from a military family. He joined the Air Force after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. He has more than 300 hours of combat experience in Afghanistan.
“I was going to be a doctor, and then the events of 9/11 happened and I wanted to serve,” said Bodenheimer. “I was able, I was patriotic, I was proud to be an American and appreciated the freedoms that I had.
The Thunderbirds headline one of the more robust Air Show lineups in recent years that include the first-ever appearance of the Air Force F-35 Lightning, an F/A-18 Super Hornet, Sean D. Tucker, a B-25 Doolittle Raid Commemoration, a Lockheed Martin t-50A, and more.
Gates open at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday with the feature show from 11:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at www.daytonairshow.com or at Kroger stores.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.