United Rehabilitation Services of Greater Dayton received a very special visit from members of the U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds team this morning.
The clients and staff at United Rehabilitation Services of Greater Dayton received a very special visit this morning from members of the U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds team, who are in town for the Dayton Air Show this weekend. Among the guests was Captain Nicholas Eberling, the opposing solo pilot flying the No. 6 jet for the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron. Captain Eberling was accompanied by Staff Sgt. Cody Fondahn and Staff Sgt. Dwayne Pritchett who handle communications, music, and other duties for the team. It takes a team of 120 members to keep the Thunderbirds in the air and at the top of their game.
The room was filled and buzzing with excitement when the Thunderbirds entered. Captain Eberling was introduced and proceeded to share information about the Thunderbirds team, along with some personal history. With 10 years and over 500 combat hours under his belt, Captain Eberling is in his first year with the elite Thunderbirds team. I was surprised to learn that service to this team only lasts about 3 years after which they return to their previous unit.
One of the highlights of the visit was when a client asked how Captain Eberling keeps from getting air sick. Both of his parents are Air Force veterans and we were all surprised to learn that as a boy he got air sick every time he flew with his Air Force pilot father until he was 15. Fortunately he stopped getting air sick and went on to become an Air Force pilot. Now he flies in tight formations sometimes within 18 inches of his teammates and performs aerial acrobatics and stunts that require special equipment to combat G-force and keep blood pumping to his heart and brain.
The Thunderbirds presented a beautiful lithograph of an Air Force Thunderbird signed by members of the team to URS, next a group of young clients presented a poster they made to the Thunderbirds, after which the team remained for a short time to sign autographs and answer questions.