NewsCovering Colorado


Olympic Athlete Apolo Ohno spends the afternoon with US Air Force Thunderbirds

Olympic Athlete Apolo Ohno gets the opportunity of a lifetime to take to the air with the Thunderbirds.
Posted at 8:57 AM, Jun 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-01 10:57:53-04

PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, CO — Former Olympic Speed Skater Apolo Ohno got the chance to fly with the Air Force Thunderbirds Wednesday.

Ohno is an eight-time medal-winning Olympic speed skater with two gold medals, two silver, and four bronze.

During the flight, he got the chance to experience the maneuvers that the pilots will be showing off at the Air Force Graduation Ceremony today.

Ohno even managed to stay conscious during a 9G turn, a rare feat for anyone not a trained pilot. The athlete is the latest celebrity to get the chance to fly with the Thunderbirds.

Ohno and the group have partnered using the exposure of the flight to help with recruiting and retaining people for the Air Force.

Ohno says the flight was a surreal experience and the opportunity of a lifetime.

"You never really dream that you actually have the opportunity to jump in one of these and let alone fly it like I was able to actually fly it on my own. He let me grab the, you know, the joystick and. It was incredible," said Ohno.

The Thunderbirds will be showing off all their tricks during today's graduation ceremony and have an air show planned for after when the last graduate receives their diploma.

After his flight, Ohno's pilot said the experience of having the Olympic athlete fly with them was one of the best experiences to date.

Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.