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Thunderbirds select local Hometown Hero for flight

Release Number: 040310

The USAF Thunderbirds, the Air Force's official aerial demonstartion team perform in the skies above Travis Air Force Base, Calif. as part of the 2008 Travis Air Expo, Aug. 30-31. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Kristen Rohrer)

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A Montgomery-area teacher was notified of his selection today to fly with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as part of its Hometown Hero program.

Michael Gross, an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Education and Exercise Science at Auburn University Montgomery, was chosen from dozens of people nominated to fly with the Thunderbirds as a Hometown Hero.

Dr. Gross taught elementary physical education for 14 years in the Montgomery Public School system, influencing nearly 1,000 students to get in shape and stay in shape. He left the school system in order to earn his Ph.D. in Physical Education. He conducted fitness camps to teach children about proper eating and exercising habits, and he led mission trips to a Brazilian orphanage.

"We're excited to host Dr. Gross as someone who embodies the same spirit of selflessness our Airmen exhibit," said Lt. Col. Bud Mahan, the Air Show director. "We had a difficult time choosing among so many great nominees we received from across Alabama, but Dr. Gross' efforts to improve the well-being of others, specifically students, really stood out to us."

Dr. Gross is scheduled to fly with the Thunderbirds on March 25 as part of the preparations for the Maxwell Open House and Air Show on March 27 and 28. Pre-registered air show media are welcome to cover the flight.

For more information, contact Air University Public Affairs at (334) 953-2014.