Georgia Hometown Hero flies with the Thunderbirds

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kendra Ransum
  • 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. – A hometown hero came to Dobbins to fly with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.


FeFe Handy, the founder and president of Page Turners Make Great Learners, flew with the Thunderbirds here October 23, 2020.


Handy was nominated as the Hometown Hero, a program where exceptional community members are recognized and given the opportunity to fly in a Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcon.


She was honored for the work she has done in advocating reading and literacy and ensuring that students in marginalized communities and neighborhoods have access to books.


Following her oxygen mask and anti-gravity flight suit fitting, Handy stepped onto the flightline alongside her family. There, she climbed into the cockpit behind the seat of Maj. Jason Markzon, Thunderbirds advance pilot and narrator, who performed some pre-flight checks. Shortly after, Markzon taxied the F-16 down the runway with Handy onboard and the two ascended into the clouds.


“Ms. FeFe was awesome,” said Markzon. “She was super excited. Once we got vertical and we got above the clouds, she was laughing and just clapping her hands the entire time.”


After approximately an hour of flying, the two returned to the flightline, where Handy’s children greeted her with applause.


“The takeoff was exhilarating, but doing that particular maneuver was totally awesome and freeing, but the whole experiencing has been great,” said Handy. “So, it’s hard to measure which one was better than the other, but I have to say the knife-edge maneuver was the best of the best.”


Handy said that she felt honored and humbled for the opportunity to fly with the Thunderbirds, and that she cannot wait to share her day’s experiences with her colleagues and the children she serves.


“I appreciate the Thunderbirds and the U.S. Air Force recognizing the work that we do in the community,” said Handy. “Being recognized for the work that we do means the world to me.”