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From spectators to pilots: Local Army Reserve crew members ready to fly in Thunder air show

Some of the pilots and crew chiefs in this year's Thunder Over Louisville air show grew up watching it as spectators. Saturday, they'll fly in it.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Planes are coming from all over into Louisville for the Thunder air show.

The 8-229th Assault Helicopter Battalion is going to be flying two Black Hawk helicopters. The Army Reserve Aviation crews flying them are based out of Fort Knox.

Some of the crew members are local to Louisville and Southern Indiana. CW2 Devin Karr grew up in Louisville and has always gone to see the Thunder Over Louisville airshow.

“It was kind of weird last year not being able to go,” Karr said. “So, being able to participate this year is going to be fun for myself and my family to be able to see that.”

CW4 James Morgan has also been a spectator of the show, growing up right across the river in Clarksville.

“Of course as a young boy I always enjoyed air shows,” Morgan said. “I never thought I was aviator material, so to speak, but the Army showed me differently.”

In addition to serving in the reserves, these pilots and crew chiefs also have civilian jobs. It gives them an opportunity to be in aviation and serve the United States, while still staying close to home.

Each day is different. One day these crew members are working or going to school as a civilian, but the next they’re training for a mission.

The air show Saturday is just that – a show. But it also gives the crewmembers a chance to have what they do, highlighted on a bigger stage.  

“We’ll take any training chance we can and any kind of chance to work with the public or show the public what we can do,” SSG Richard Hill said.

The 229th is always looking for people who are interested in serving. SPC Nichole Giroff wanted to serve but also attend college, so this was a great way to do both.

“What I really enjoy about it is learning new things about the helicopter, how to fix it and maintain it and work with the pilots and all my other comrades and do missions,” Giroff said.

The crew members said you don’t need any experience flying – they will teach you. There are two U.S. Army Reserve helicopter units home-stationed at Godman Army Airfield in Fort Knox, one being the 8-229th Assault Helicopter Battalion.

Contact reporter Rose McBride at rmcbride@whas11.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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