Emma Broyles, the first Korean American to hold the title of Miss America, took to the skies in an F-16 Thunderbird while participating in a recent U.S. Air Force flight performance practice.
According to Broyles, 21, she was the V.I.P. chosen last week to fly with the Thunderbirds, the premier demonstration team of the Air Force.
On Friday, the beauty queen joined the Thunderbirds’ rehearsal for their performance at the Arctic Thunder Open House, which occurred at U.S. military facility Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, over the weekend.
“Yesterday I had one of the most incredible experiences of my life thanks to the @afthunderbirds,” Broyles wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday. “Flying in an F-16 is an experience like no other, and I am endlessly grateful to have had the opportunity to do so.”
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The Thunderbirds also took to Instagram and shared a short clip that shows how Broyles conquered her fears for the flight.
The post noted: “As a child, Emma volunteered with the Special Olympics where her brother competed and was the president of the largest Special Olympics school program in Alaska. She’s spent the last 15 years as a volunteer, coach, speaker, supporter, and advocate for students with and without intellectual disabilities to become champions of inclusion within their school and community.”
The Thunderbirds’ post also highlighted how Broyles has been using her platform to connect with “those who have ADHD, OCD, or other mental conditions and bring awareness to the importance of mental health.”
Despite initial nervousness, Broyles told KTUU that she received pre-flight instruction before taking flight.
“We went through these trainings to learn how to squeeze every muscle in my legs all the way up until I can push the blood to my head,” Broyles was quoted as saying. “And I was like, yeah, whatever, that will be easy, that’ll be easy. And then once you actually get in the jet it’s absolutely insane, just the feeling of those g’s on your body.”
If given another chance, Broyles said she “would totally do it again.”