Blue Angels take community Key Influencers for private flight

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Blue Angels show off jet at Air Show

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

University of Dayton professor Margaret Pinnell and Dayton police Officer Jason Olson flew with the U.S. Navy's precision aircraft team, the Blue Angels, on Wednesday as part of the Key Influencer program.

>> Read more about Officer Olson in Sunday's Dayton Daily News

Pinnell and Olson flew out of Dayton International Airport in the F/A-18 Hornet with Lt. Andre Webb, assigned to the "Golden Eagles" of Training Squadron 22.

>>Everything you need to know about the Dayton Air Show

Key Influencers are solicited by the Blue Angels and defined as "people who help to shape attitudes and opinions of youth in the community."

"It means a lot to me," Officer Olson told News Center 7's Kirstie Zontini. "I've been really excited about it for a while."

Serving as the city of Dayton's only addiction resource officer, Olson helped implement the GROW (Get Recovery Options Working) program where he and a team of specialists follow up with individuals arrested for an overdose.

In 2017, Olson followed up on more than 600 overdoses and has helped 290 families deal with addiction.

"This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Just the experience of being up there and knowing that not a lot of other people have this opportunity was incredible," Olson said.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini was invited to fly along with one of the Blue Angels on Wednesday, June 20, 2018.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Pinnell, a UD graduate and associate dean for faculty and staff development in the school of engineering, worked with the ETHOS program at the university for approximately 10 years.

The program places undergraduate students in developing countries to work with international community partners to find engineering solutions to basic human needs such as water, sanitation and cooking.

Pinnell grew the program from approximately five students a year to nearly 45 a year and brought national recognition to the program.

>>WATCH: Blue Angels practice ahead of Dayton Air Show

Pinnell is also involved in the K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) community, leading the development of pick-up-and-go outreach kits that make it easier for engineering undergraduate students to go into area schools to deliver high impact STEM activities.

She is actively involved in Project Lead the Way (PLTW) with Chaminade-Julienne High School and has provided support to Bellbrook High School's PLTW program, and currently works with area Catholic Schools on a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering and Mathematics) initiative.

Pinnell said Lt. Webb showed her around Dayton and pointed out the campus. She described the experience of seeing, from the air, the building where she works as unique.

>>Blue Angels cancel Dayton Air Show appearance

"It was phenomenal, the pilot was amazing, he made me feel comfortable through the whole entire flight," Pinnell told Zontini. "It was an amazing experience and I feel very, very fortunate to be nominated for this."

This weekend, the public can see the Blue Angels make their first appearance at the Vectren Dayton Air Show since 2014. For ticket information, visit

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