Hometown hero gets ride in the sky

August 10, 2009 (CHICAGO) Chicago firefighter Brian Otto got to fly with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

"A lot of people asked me, are you ready for it? I said, 'I have no idea.' I don't know what to expect. It's exciting. We always preach teamwork on the fire department. I said what about better representation of teamwork than the Thunderbirds," said Brian Otto, Chicago firefighter.

The Thunderbirds chose Brian Otto to join them for a ride in recognition of Otto's heroism.

In April of 2008, Otto saved a two-year-old boy from drowning in Lake Michigan. The boy had been out with his grandfather when a gust of wind blew him into the lake where the water was 42 degrees. When Otto's mother read about the hometown hero flight, she was excited to nominate her son.

"This is the most excited I've ever been. I truly mean that. It's wonderful," said Trudy Schubert, Otto's Mother.

Trudy Schubert and Otto's whole family were on hand to watch. Otto was given pre-flight instructions from the thunderbirds and then he was off.

When they took off, they were moving at 350 miles per hour. Otto says he managed to keep his composure and even enjoyed the view.

"I couldn't believe we were flying around downtown on such a nice day. We went past Soldier Field," said Otto.

"Brian represents the entire fire department in the service that those men and women stand for in their community on a daily basis. We wish we could fly every single one of you and your compatriots but we cannot. You count for us as our way of giving back to the fire department for what you stand for," said Major Tony Mulhare, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

Otto say he'll be at the Chicago Air and Water Show over the weekend to see the Thunderbirds again.

Copyright © 2023 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.