EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (WMBB) – A Bay County teacher was given the ride of her life at Eglin Air Force Base on Monday.
Gale Cassady, a first-grade teacher at Tommy Smith Elementary, was offered an incentive flight from Tyndall Air Force Base for being voted Bay District Schools Teacher of the Year.
Cassady will fly in a T-38 jet alongside airmen at Eglin and participate in a real-life training mission.
“Before I even thought about asking for permission I said yes, absolutely,” Cassady said.
Tyndall Air Force Base 325th Fighter Wing Vice Commander Colonel Christopher Peters said these airmen’s mission is to provide a realistic threat replication to support their F-22 training mission. This replicates the tactics they expect to see in the skies.
“Pilots that got the opportunity to take her up today flew on a training mission that they were going to fly whether Ms. Cassady was here or not,” Colonel Peters said. “So she gets a very up close and personal of what our pilots train to every single day.”
Cassady said she was a little nervous. She even had fears of getting sick. But she had a motivation to push through.
“I want my husband and my daughter and of course my grandson to be proud of me and know that I’m not an old grandmother but I’m a daredevil right,” Cassady said.
Cassady’s 14-year-old grandson, Daniel Newman, watched and cheered from the sidelines as his grandma took off flying 520 miles per hour in the sky – doing aerobatics and barrel rolls.
Newman is a cancer survivor. He said watching this moment feels surreal.
“I think it was crazy because this is something I would never do,” Newman said “I’m extremely scared of heights but I’m very proud of her and what she’s done.”
Newman said he has the coolest grandma out there.
He said his grandma is always there for him, and now it’s his turn to be there for her by giving her support in the air using a radio call.
When Cassady landed, the first face she sees is no one other than Newman. He was given the honor of taxying the jet for landing. Cassady said her mission was accomplished.
“Oh my gosh, best day ever,” Cassady said. “I mean it’s beyond my expectations. She let me take the sticks, she let me do a roll, it was just unbelievable.”
Cassady had tears in her eyes when she hugged her family. She said she would do it all again tomorrow.
Cassady said she can’t wait to go back to school tomorrow and share her experience with her first-grade class.