‘Hometown Hero’ takes once-in-a-lifetime flight with Air Force Thunderbirds

Jun 22, 2018, 7:50 PM | Updated: Feb 12, 2023, 7:06 pm

Story starts at the 5:46 mark in the video

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – It takes quite a pilot to try and do the things people will see at the Warriors Over The Wasatch air show at Hill Air Force Base this weekend.

Sergeant Aaron Thompson with Washington County Sheriff’s Office meets with the Thunderbirds crew on Friday, June 22, 2018 before his “Hometown Heroes” flight.

Aaron Thompson may have looked like a pilot in his flight uniform as he walked around an F-16, but, he’s not.

“I’m just so thrilled to be here to experience this,” he said.

Thompson was actually a sergeant with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. He was also the Hometown Hero for the air show, which means an hour-long ride with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

High speed chases as a law enforcement officer are one thing, but this kind of speed, was on another level.

Thompson took some quick training classes on what to do in the back seat of the two-seat plane he would be flying in.

There was no way he was going to miss this.

Jason Barlow was invited to attend Sergeant Aaron Thompson’s flight with the Thunderbirds at Hill Air Force Base. Thompson saved his life after he fell through a frozen pond in New Harmony.

“Experience of a lifetime,” he said with a big grin as he walked up the metal steps to get into his seat.

His friends and family clapped for him as he buckled in.

So did the 8-year old boy who Thompson saved, and in doing so, was named this year’s Hometown Hero.

“He saved my life,” said Jason Barlow while standing next to his father.

This past Christmas Day, Barlow fell through a frozen pond in New Harmony.

Thompson got the call, rushed to the pond, and started punching through the ice.

He even went underwater to find Barlow and pulled him out.

Washington County Sheriff’s Sergeant Aaron Thomson makes final preparations for his flight with the Thunderbirds at Hill Air Force Base.

Sergeant Aaron Thompson with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office prepares for his flight with the Air Force’s Thunderbirds.

Barlow was alive today thanks to Thompson.

“It’s really hard to explain the feelings you have for somebody that has done what he’s done for us,” said James Barlow, Jason’s father.

Thompson invited the Barlow family to Hill Air Force Base to see his flight.

James Barlow was happy to bring his family to Hill Air Force Base for Sgt. Aaron Thompson’s “Hometown Heroes” flight, after Thompson pulled his 8-year-old son out of a frozen pond in Southern Utah.

“We’re really privileged to share this with him and so very happy he’s got this opportunity,” said James Barlow.

Of course, Thompson will still tell you he’s not a hero, that he was just doing his job.

However, even the Thunderbirds agreed he’s a hero.

“My personal opinion is that’s amazing,” said Major Branden Felker, the Thunderbirds pilot who flew with Thompson. “We have lots and lots of heroes in our world and in our communities and he’s one example of that.”

That’s what this Hometown Hero flight was all about; saying thank you and giving back to someone who deserves something special.

Sgt. Aaron Thompson with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Maj. Branden Felker with the Air Force’s Thunderbirds.

“It was absolutely amazing. The thrust that this thing has, it was just incredible,” said Thompson after his flight. “We were going so fast, and as we did our rolls and I looked down, everything looked so small. You couldn’t tell how high up you were.”

It was something Thompson said he’ll never forget.

He also said he would do it all again.

The flight and the rescue.

“I was just doing my job. I was the right guy at the right place at the right time,” said Thompson.

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‘Hometown Hero’ takes once-in-a-lifetime flight with Air Force Thunderbirds