Dayton Air Show Prep - First responder honored

Firefighter who led 2017 Thunderbird accident rescue takes flight as hero

“I’m still kind of stunned. It’s kind of like an out-of-body experience. You don’t really believe it’s happening,” Seidenschmidt, who heads the fire and rescue team at the Dayton International Airport, said after the flight.

Seidenschmidt was one of two hometown heroes to fly today, honored for leading the efforts to rescue the Thunderbird crew in the 2017 mishap after an F-16 piloted by Maj. Erik “Speedy” Gonsalves flipped off a rain-soaked runway at the Vectren Dayton Air Show. Gonsalves survived and is flying again, and tech Sgt. Kenneth Cordova, riding in the back of the fighter jet, also survived.

Seidenschmidt said he’s not a hero; he was just doing his job.

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“It’s not just me as a hero, it takes a whole group. I’m no good by myself. It takes all of those people,” he said. “I wish we could all fly and ride.”

The pilot of the craft that took Seidenschmidt above the Dayton airport Friday, Lt. Col. Eric Gorney, said it was a special flight for him because he was able to say “this is what you enabled. You keep us flying.”

“We get to take up a lot of people in the back seat of the airplanes, but when its a hometown hero, someone connected with the local community — especially in this case that’s been such an instrumental help to the team in getting us flying again — I can’t think of anything better.”

»RELATED: Xenia firefighter takes flight as hero

Xenia firefighter Levi Dalton also will fly with the Thunderbirds later today. He used CPR to save a lifeless 17-month-old child in February.

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