‘Dream come true’ for Beavercreek HS grad to join USAF Thunderbirds

A 2006 Beavercreek High School grad who was inspired to join the U.S. Air Force while watching the Thunderbirds as a teen visitor to the Vectren Dayton Air Show is now one of them.

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Capt. Kyle “Gumbo” Oliver recently was added to the Thunderbirds air demonstration squadron as an officer and pilot for their 2020 and 2021 show seasons.

“We’re beyond excited and proud,” the captain’s father, Geoff Oliver said. “This is a dream come true for sure.”

Kyle Oliver was born at Wright-Patterson Medical Center while his father, an active duty airman, was stationed to WPAFB. They lived in town until 1993 and were transferred back at the end of 2001, Geoff Oliver said.

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“I took him to the air show when he was between his junior and senior year of high school,” Oliver said. “He saw the Thunderbirds flying and how cool it would be to fly one of those. It’s the first time he ever expressed any interest in joining the Air Force.”

So Oliver introduced him to an ROTC recruiter so he could join the Ohio State ROTC. He graduated from OSU, where he played in the marching band, as an officer and a “Buckeye through and through,” his father said.

Air Force Maj. Ray Geoffroy said Kyle Oliver assisted the Thunderbirds last year during a show at Langley Air Force Base, where he was stationed.

Credit: USAF Thunderbirds

Credit: USAF Thunderbirds

He called Oliver a “really talented” pilot.

“Well, Capt. Kyle Oliver really wowed us during his application process this year. We’re really excited to bring him on board,” Geoffroy said.

Oliver will fly as Thunderbird No. 6, the team’s Opposing Solo Pilot. Solo pilots perform maneuvers that showcase the maximum capabilities of the F-16 aircraft, according to an Air Force release.

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He will not perform with the Thunderbirds this year, but they are expected to return for the 2021 Vectren Dayton Air Show.

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