PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (CBS4) – Former Broncos Quarterback Brian Griese trained with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds on Tuesday before flying in an F-16 with one the unit’s pilots.
“You really have no idea until you’re up there,” Griese said after his flight.
The retired NFL player spoke to the Air Force Academy last year and the Thunderbirds invited him to join them this week just a day before their next major performance. Griese spent hours learning about the equipment required to board the aircraft. Members of the aerial demonstration team also talked about the safety precautions they take to operate each flight.
Griese was excited for the opportunity but admitted he does not enjoy experiencing the conditions similar to the speed of an F-16.
“I’m not a huge roller coaster fan,” he said. “I don’t do well with my kids on roller coasters.”
After spending much of the morning preparing for the flight, he put on all of the necessary gear and was helped into his seat. The standard flight pilots take guests like Griese on lasts about 45 minutes.
“It’s amazing that these pilots can do what they do,” he said. “Move after move, because it all comes fast.”
As a former professional athlete that played on multiple teams, Griese said what the Thunderbirds do is on another level. He was impressed by all of the work they put in training for the unit and the dedication of each member show after show.
“We’re all thinking about our military and the people that have made those sacrifices,” said Griese. “The teams that I’ve played on have had far less on the line.”
The Thunderbirds fly all around the world, known as “America’s Ambassadors in Blue,” and representatives of the Air Force’s Airmen. The team will perform on Wednesday, May 23 at the Academy, keeping up the annual tradition of the unit’s flyover during the graduation ceremony.