9 Family: Orange Co. student selected to meet Thunderbird pilot



BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - This weekend's Tico Airshow will feature the famous Thunderbirds performing for the last time because of government cuts.

Sequestration is keeping the team grounded, but Eyewitness News brought an Orange County student onto the tarmac just in time to live out his dream.

We were there as a teenager received a rare opportunity.

"It's a pretty good flying day," said Jorge Rodriquez behind the controls of what looked to be a real cockpit.

Instead, the teenager who wants to grow up to be a pilot was actually inside a classroom at Oak Ridge High School taking advantage of a unique program.

"It focusing on flying, which is what I really wanted to do," said Rodriguez whose parents took him out of private school to attend the Aviation Magnet Program.

His father was willing to take the chance to help his son realize his dream to fly.

"He is exposed to the site of aviation like the opportunity today to meet the Thunderbirds," said Rodriguez’ father.

And thanks to the teenager's hard work, Orange County Schools selected Rodriguez to be a part of this 9 Family Connection.

"Jorge, it's good to meet you," said Major Michael Fisher of the United States Air Force as he met the boy on the tarmac.

Fisher has undergone years of training which requires a solid background in academics

"A solid background in math and science is key especially when you flying a single seat fighter out there. You are the only one in the cockpit making the decisions," said Fisher.

These are skills Rodriguez is now learning ahead of his future military career thanks to being an outstanding student getting amazing opportunities.

"Best of luck to you. Keep doing well in school," said Fisher to the teenager as they said goodbye.