A ride to remember: Air Force Thunderbirds give Oregon District hero officer an ‘amazing’ ride

Dayton Air Show returns Saturday and Sunday

Dayton police officer Ryan Nabel withstood a 9-G F-16 ride like an authentic “G machine,” Air Force Thunderbirds Advance Pilot Maj. Jason Markzon declared Friday, a day before the opening of the CenterPoint Energy Dayton Air Show.

Nabel enjoyed the ride as a “hometown hero” at Dayton International Airport, a day before the Thunderbirds flight demonstration team is set to perform at the show.

“It was amazing,” Nabel said after the ride, once he “found his legs.”

“It was a lifetime experience, and the Thunderbirds were more than accommodating to me today. Everyone has been really great,” he added.

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Nabel was one of the officers who responded to the mass shootings in the Oregon District that left nine people and the shooter dead in the early morning of Aug. 4, 2019, going on to receive the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor from President Donald Trump in September that year.

Sworn in as a Dayton officer April 8, 2016, Nabel was one of the officers who regularly patrolled the Oregon District on weekends and was nearby when the shooting began that night. Within 20 seconds, officers were firing on the shooter, police later said.

“It means a lot,” he said of Friday’s ride. “There were six of us. For me to be chosen out of the guys, I mean, a lifetime experience. It’s more than anything I could really imagine.”

The other five officers were Sgt. William C. Knight, Officer Brian Rolfes, Officer Jeremy Campbell, Officer Vincent Carter and Officer David Denlinger.

Nabel, an Army veteran who served in Iraq with the First Calvary Division, said he refrained from greasy food before the ride “as instructed” and worked until midnight Thursday night.

“I’ve been in all sorts of vehicles and things like that in the Army,” he added. “But I’ve never been in anything like that.”

The Thunderbirds were thoughtful enough to give Nabel “a little sack to throw up in,” but the officer said he didn’t need it.

“Officer Nabel did awesome,” Markzon said. “Ryan is a great guy. He’s very humble, very mild-mannered. But once you get him in a jet, he had an absolute blast — just smiles and laughter the whole time.”

Markzon, who is also the narrator for the Thunderbirds, said Nabel “absolutely crushed” a ride that employed some unforgiving maneuvers.

“We pulled 9 Gs,” the major said. “Went upside down, loops and everything. It was great. He crushed it. The guy is built for this.”

Gates open at the Dayton International Airport for the air show at 9 am Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available at area Kroger stores or at https://daytonairshow.com.

Spectators can expect a full slate of performers besides the Thunderbirds, including the Army Golden Knights parachute team, an Air Force C-17 demonstration, the AeroShell aerobatic team, a U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet Demonstration and more.

The weather forecast for the show calls for a 40% chance of rain Saturday with a high of 76. The advice from Dr. Brandon Amburgey, the chief physician for the air show: Bring an umbrella. It should serve you well, rain or shine.

“No. 1, if you’re sitting on the lawn, you have shade,” he said. “It’s 15 degrees cooler in the shade as opposed to direct sunlight. No. 2, if it is going to rain, you have an umbrella, so it protects you both ways.”

How to go

The gates open at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and the feature show is from noon until 4:15 p.m.

The show schedule is the same both days. The acts and times are subject to change without notice.

  • Flag Drop and National Anthem
  • US Army Golden Knights Parachute Team
  • U.S. Air Force C-17 Demonstration
  • Mike Wiskus with Lucas Oil Airshows
  • AeroShell Aerobatic Team
  • U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet Demonstration
  • U.S. Navy F-18 Demonstration with Corsair
  • CareFlight Helicopter Flyby
  • Jacquie B
  • Shockwave Jet Truck
  • U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds


Parking is $15 for cars and $25 for bus or recreational vehicle at the gate.

There are two general admission lots located on North Dixie Drive. The Main Lot is within walking distance to the main gate and the South Lot has a shuttle to the gate.

The P-lot parking lot (for those with Pavilion, Blue Sky, or private chalet tickets) is also located on North Dixie Drive. A shuttle takes you from this lot to your seating area. This lot requires a pass printed at home or on a mobile device and held up for police to see.

Parking lots can be accessed from I-75 or I-70.

From I-75 take Exit 64 Northwoods Blvd. follow signs for ticket type.

From I-70 take Exit 32 Airport Access Road follow signs for ticket type.

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