This September one lucky individual will get the ride of a lifetime at the “Thunder Over the Blue Ridge” open house and air show hosted by the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg WV. The two day event will feature the precision flying and acrobatics of the Air Force Thunderbirds and United States Army Parachute Team Golden Knights. These prestigious military aerial acts are expected to draw more than 80,000 visitors to the Martinsburg area this Labor Day weekend.
A feature of the event will be the “Hometown Heroes” orientation flight hosted by the Thunderbirds. This program provides one lucky individual with the opportunity to fly with the elite Air Force aerial team. An essay contest will be held to select the top five “Hometown Heroes” who may be eligible for the flight. Contestants vying for the honor of flying with the Thunderbirds may either nominate themselves or another worthy individual.
Maj. Melissa Shade, public affairs officer for the 167th Airlift Wing, said Airmen may take part in the contest as long as the nomination has nothing to do with their military duty.
According to the Thunderbirds’ Public Affairs Office, the Hometown Heroes program “is designed to highlight someone from your local area who has given of themselves to better your community. A local hero will receive a one-hour Thunderbird orientation flight in one of the world’s premiere fighter jets -the Lockheed Martin F-16D.”
The essay must be no more than 350 words long and should explain why someone has made a difference in the community for the better. For example, an average citizen who has saved someone’s life; a renowned teacher or mentor; a community humanitarian or an individual who has dedicated his or her life to working with at-risk children may all be strong contenders if nominated as a Hometown Hero.
All essays must be submitted by May 1 to the 167th Airlift Wing’s Public Affairs Office via email at 167AW.PA@ang.af.mil or fax them to 304-616-5111. A panel will judge the essays and determine the overall winner. Four people will be selected as runner ups who may also participate in flights if available. Submissions must include a phone number to contact in case of selection.
For complete rules and restrictions please contact Maj. Shade or Staff Sgt. Sherree Grebenstein at 304-616-5023.