Denver Bronco is a “Champ” in the cockpit

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Dan Gage
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force Thunderbirds welcomed Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey to the Wyoming Air National Guard base in Cheyenne, Wyo., July 23.

The 11-time Pro Bowl cornerback spent the afternoon getting fitted for his flight suit and attending pre-briefings, before climbing into the cockpit of the F-16 Thunderbird Number Seven, piloted by Lt. Col. Jason Koltes, Thunderbirds operations officer.

During the flight they performed a flyby at Camp Guernsey and carried out tactical maneuvers including reaching 9.2 g's and sustaining five to seven g's for a minute and a half.

"He was able to handle everything I threw at him today," said Koltes. "We take a lot of people out on orientation flights and he did great.

"Flying an F-16 is like riding a rollercoaster and running a marathon at the same time," Koltes added. "You have to be in top physical condition. Champ proved that, much like our crew and pilots, he's truly at the top of his game."

After presenting Bailey with a certificate declaring he'd reached 9 g's, Koltes warned Bailey he may feel tired later.

"I'm tired now," Bailey laughed. "I didn't know what to expect coming into this, and honestly I was expecting the worst after the pre-flight briefings - but it was really great. I can only imagine the amount of work and preparation it takes to get to this level."

The orientation flight was enjoyed by both pilot and passenger.

"This flight was great for me," said Koltes. "Champ said he could take everything I could throw at him and he did just that. It gave me the opportunity to do anything I wanted, and more importantly, truly show him what the men and women of the Air Force do every day.

"And I always love to hear the octave rise and first words of excitement in my passenger's voice when we pull the first g," he added.

Bailey said he thoroughly enjoyed the flight, and he also appreciated all the support and work that went into it.

"I'm honored to be here today," Bailey said. "A lot of people would love to do this and I really appreciate the opportunity to take part in this.

"The flight was great," Bailey added. "But I also appreciate the people who put this together, and what everyone's done for me and my family today.

"I've always had an appreciation for what the men and women in the military do from the outside looking in," Bailey continued. "After today, I don't know how they do what they do.

"Thank you," Bailey concluded, as his son Brayden welcomed him back to the tarmac by hugging his leg. "Thank you for what you do every day - and I wish you the best going forward."