Midwest City Police Officer honored by U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds
Thunderbirds honor Hometown Hero
By Tonya Little
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have a Home Town Hero program which allows a local community member to be nominated for. This program is designed to highlight someone from the local area who has given of themselves to better the community. The nominated local hero will receive a one-hour Thunderbird orientation flight in one of the world’s premiere fighter jets. Heroes could include, but are not limited to; an average citizen who heroically saved a life; a renowned teacher; a community humanitarian; a local firefighter, paramedic or police officer; one who mentors children or volunteers as a coach or tutor in a youth program; or someone who dedicates their life to working with at-risk children.
The Midwest City Chamber of Commerce nominated Midwest City Police Officer Major David Huff, who received the Medal of Valor from President Obama last year for his 2013 heroic measures to save a 2 year old girl during a hostage situation. Maj. Huff got a call from the public information officer from Tinker Air Force Base a few months ago letting him know he had been nominated and started the process of filling out forms and making sure he met all the requirements to take the flight such as height, weight and medical history.
“Probably about 2 or 3 weeks ago I got the official notice saying that I had been accepted by the Thunderbirds to fly with them. It was an unbelievable honor, it was a great deal,” said Maj. Huff. “The only planes I’d flown on before have been big commercial planes that say Delta or Southwest on the side. I had never been in anything close to that, never. It was a bucket list thing, it was absolutely amazing.”
On Friday May 19, a day before the Tinker Air Force Base Air show began, Maj. Huff and his family went to the plane hangar where all of the Thunderbird jets were lined up and ready to go for the air show Maj. Huff was introduced to his pilot and got a briefing from the Thunderbirds flight surgeon.
“He basically went over a bunch of medical things with me and showed me how to breathe, to get a full lung of air before we started hitting real high Gs on the jet,” explained Maj. Huff. “I got fitted for a flight suit, and they fitted me for a G suit to withstand the G forces. Then they showed me how to use the equipment, the harness for the ejection seat, and the parachute- that was quite an experience.”
After all of that the pilot used a model plane to show Maj. Huff all of the different maneuvers they would be doing and explaining all of the safety procedures for the entire flight. The flight was planned as an hour long flight, but because of the weather and storms that day, the flight ended up being extended by about 20 minutes. When Maj. Huff and his pilot went up in the jet it was raining and the storms were moving into the area, so they instead flew out to McAlister over an area of Military land to do the maneuvers that were included with the flight.
“It was amazing. I was nervous, no doubt about it, I was also nervous that I was going to get nauseated or sick, but I didn’t. He actually let me fly the plane, they let me roll the plane, spin it, he let me kind of take it up and down, “ said Maj. Huff. “We did a loop where we went from a lot of G forces on your body and it feels like there’s an elephant sitting on you, to being upside down in the loop being weightless. Those experiences on your body are nothing I’ve ever felt, it’s nothing like say a roller coaster. We were going 500 mph and going upside down and it was just an amazing feeling.”
Maj. Huff also said that being in the canopy of the jet allows you to see everything above you, below you and beside you, giving you an amazing panoramic view during the flight. The Thunderbird team even provided him with a GoPro video of his entire flight so he can share the experience with his friends and family.
“I would definitely like to say that the military folks at TAFB were just unbelievably kind to me, they were such fantastic people. The Thunderbirds were just so professional and nice to me and my family. They were all just amazing people,” said Maj. Huff. “I got to do this as a part of the Home Town Hero program, but I can say without hesitation those men and women that I got to meet, the ground crew and the flight crew and the Tinker AFB soldiers, they are my heros for sure, without a doubt.”
Congratulations to Maj. Huff for being selected for such an amazing experience.
Thunderbird photos provided by Brett Day of Brett Day Photography.