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Thunderbirds Invite Coughlin To Take The Ride Of A Lifetime

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DELAWARE, Ohio October 27, 2008: Earlier this season in Denver, reigning Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. sported a specially-designed racing helmet commemorating the 50th anniversary of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). That helmet is now on permanent display at NORAD's museum on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, Colo.As part of the presentation of the helmet, which took place at the conclusion of the Mile-High NHRA Nationals, Coughlin toured NORAD and its support headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, met with various dignitaries, and signed autographs for hundreds of military personnel from both the United States and Canada.

On Tuesday, Nov. 4, at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, the Air Force plans to return the favor by taking Coughlin for a ride with the U.S. Thunderbirds in a $20 million F-16 Fighting Falcon. Celebrating 61 years of flying excellence, the Thunderbirds are widely considered the top precision air demonstration squadron in the world.

"This will undoubtedly be the thrill of a lifetime," said Coughlin, a four-time drag racing champion. "I'm honored to have this opportunity and my thanks go out to everyone involved in making this happen, especially Lt. Col. (Ret) Brian 'Bear' Lihani, who has become our friend over the last few years.

"We've all grown up enjoying the Thunderbirds and marveling at what they do and to have a chance to ride along with them is beyond anything you could ever imagine. I love taking my Chevrolet Cobalt for a spin but I have a distinct feeling this ride just might top that."

The F-16 Fighting Falcon has a range of 2,000 miles and pilots routinely experience 9Gs during their maneuvers. Coughlin will have a chance to join the 9G Club during his flight in a special jet designed for carrying passengers.

Coughlin's experience at Nellis Air Force Base, the home of the Thunderbirds, will include an equipment fitting, a flight briefing, and an interview session with the local and national media. The JEGS crew also plans to bring along Coughlin's Chevrolet Cobalt so the Thunderbird personnel can see Coughlin's racecar up close.