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Dr. Kyle Swanson prepares for launch in an F-16.

Tahoe Orthopedic Surgeon Named “Hometown Hero” and Flies with the Thunderbirds

Minden, Nev. – Dr. Kyle Swanson may be the first surgeon to ride in an F-16. On Thursday, October 5, the Minden Airshow and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds recognized the orthopedic surgeon and veteran as a “Hometown Hero.” As part of the honoring, Dr. Swanson was rewarded with a practice ride in an F-16 Fighting Falcon. 

Dr. Swanson was recognized for both his military service and medical accomplishments. During Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Dr. Swanson served in the Army and performed surgeries to treat soldiers and Afghan civilians injured during conflict. Dr. Swanson is now a highly esteemed orthopedic surgeon with Barton’s Tahoe Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Carson City and Lake Tahoe.

Prior to his “Hometown Hero” takeoff, Dr. Swanson participated in four hours of trainings and simulations. This included practicing special breathing techniques and rehearsing what to do in an emergency. As part of the preparation, Dr. Swanson was also fitted into a tailored flight suit designed to adapt to the changing pressure and tricky demonstrations. 

The practice ride took off from Minden-Tahoe Airport and lasted 60 minutes. In a flight debrief, the pilot Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh thanked Dr. Swanson for his service and said it was one of his top five most amazing fights. 

“I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this recognition,” said Lt. Col. Walsh. “It is an honor to award this to someone who has served on active duty and helped so many people.”

The flight debrief included details about the flight. Lt. Col. Walsh said it was a “maximum flight” with “maximum turns.” In one instance, the pair completed 9.3 rotations.  

Dr. Swanson is one of 38 civilians selected this year as a “Hometown Hero.” Heroes are selected from around the world with usually one hero and one flight chosen per an airshow.