After watching his team take the field for the first practice of OTAs, Head Coach John Fox took an hour drive down to Colorado Springs to watch another team practice.
The Air Force demonstration squadron, the Thunderbirds, was visiting Peterson Air Force Base and invited Coach Fox on board for a ride-along.
Fox underwent three hours of medical tests and training in preparation for a one-hour ride-along in one of the squadron’s F-16s.
Thunderbirds personnel fit Fox with customized equipment and trained him on how to handle the up to nine Gs that he would experience on the ride. He watched a video on how to eject and parachute in case of an emergency.
After the briefing period, the pilot brought in the bad news that the jet was having mechanical problems and wasn’t able to fly.
“I think the fact that it broke before I took off is better than if it had broken afterwards,” Fox laughed. “That’s the fortunate part and maybe we can do it another time.”
The crew invited Coach Fox to try again another day, which is something he said he’d look forward to.
“Oh yeah, sometime,” Fox said. “They’re based out of Las Vegas, so maybe if I can get over that way sometime maybe I’ll take them up on it. This time is busy for us – it just kind of worked out (today). Unfortunately this happened, but we’ll do it another time.”
Fox invited the team to Dove Valley to watch the Broncos’ practice Tuesday morning. The group had a chance to meet a handful of players in the dining hall before practice.
Flight Surgeon Maj. Michael Carletti, who trained Fox at Peterson, met fellow Texas native Von Miller — his favorite player.
Miller, Peyton Manning, Elvis Dumervil and Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway signed a football for the group along with other Broncos memorabilia.
Even though he wasn’t able to get up in the air with the Thunderbirds, Fox said it was a worthwhile experience just to spend time with the team.
“It’s fun to get out on the base,” he said. “We’re still going to get a chance to watch those guys fly and they’re some of the best pilots in the world. I just like being around the military and like to let them know how appreciative me and my family are of their efforts and that commitment and sacrifice. Just coming down on base was really a lot of fun. I’ve met a lot of great people and we’ll do the ride some other time.”