It's one thing to watch a Thunderbird F-16 fly overhead.
It's quite another to be on board.
"It was the experience of a lifetime," Eric Kleim said. "It was incredible. I can't even explain it."
The U.S. Air Force treated Kleim to an hour flight after the Hillsboro firefighter saved a 6-year-old's life back in April.
It was a horrible accident. Eliceo Lopez was badly burned by a backyard barbeque when his mother accidentally used racing fuel instead of charcoal lighter. When she lit the grill, it exploded, rocking the Aloha neighborhood as calls poured into 911.
Kleim was one of the paramedics on the scene.
"I used every single trick in the book to try and save his life," Kleim said.
Lopez was flown to the hospital with life-threatening damage to his airways. However, just four months later, you could hardly tell he was still recovering. The shy boy watched from the tarmac as the man who saved his life experienced 9Gs in a fighter jet.
"It was much more intense than I'd ever imagined," Kleim said.
Now Kleim and Lopez both have a Thunderbird pin and an appreciation for being alive.
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