Cleveland National Airshow pilot takes Ohio boy on the ride of his life

Posted at 8:00 AM, Sep 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-02 09:44:58-04

Labor day means one thing here in Cleveland, the Cleveland National Airshow.

The event is in its 50th year, and still drawing massive crowds from across the country.

This year a competition was held to find one lucky young person, to take the ride of a lifetime in the sky with an airshow pilot. The winner was 13-year old Matthew Keckler from Findlay, Ohio. In his essay he wrote about how at the age of 6 years old, he remembers watching the super bowl with his family, seeing the Blue Angels fly over the stadium, and he knew someday he would want to do that.

PHOTOS: Behind the scenes with the Thunderbirds

His grandfather also contributed to his love of flying, “my grandpa, he was drafted and he always worked on the F4 phantom and so when i went over to his house he would always tell me stories and i always thought, wow that’s really cool", Keckler said.

The flight he took with decorated aerobatic pilot Sean D. Tucker, means that this teenager is one step closer to fulfilling his ultimate dream as a military pilot. Tucker is not just an experienced aerobatic pilot, but he is the chairman of The Experimental Aircraft Association.

The organization created the Young Eagles Program, as a way to introduce young people to the world of aviation. Since its inception, the program has helped over 2 million young people fly in the sky.

"I want these kids to know that they are our precious jewels and their dreams are relevant and they can achieve anything they want and there’s someone out there to help them", said Tucker.

Tucker not only took Keckler for his Young Eagles flight, but he’ll also be flying in the airshow this weekend. Keckler plans to attend as well, this time one the ground with the rest of event goers. Tucker will be performing this Saturday through Monday, September 2nd-4th beginning at 2pm.