LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Robert Givens says he was born to fly.

"There's just something magical about flight. It's freeing, the ability to see the world upside down, think and operate in three dimensions is a great feeling," Givens said.

The Louisville native graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1986, and recently retired as Brigadier General after 27 years in the military. "I started in a T-41, then the T-37, T-38, A-10, F-16, B-1 Bomber and now the Yak-52," Givens said.

Givens saw the front line of defense, logging 4,000 hours of fighter time in the sky and 100 combat missions.

The decorated war hero earned a Bronze Star and two distinguished Flying Crosses for missions in the Middle East, from Desert Storm to Afghanistan and the fall of Saddam Hussein.

"We were trying to destroy the Iraqi army on the ground and hit as many targets as possible to force an end to that war," he said.

In retirement Givens enjoys the Vintage Warbirds at Bowman Field. It's a group of retired military and civilian pilots promoting education and careers in aviation. "It's more of a thrill today, because today it's no longer work. Today it's just for fun."

WDRB got a chance to see their skills first hand.

Givens is no stranger to Thunder either. "I think the biggest occasion was in 1997 when I was the right wing on the Thunderbirds. I have also flown in Thunder in an F-16 later on in life and not this year, but hopefully next year in a Yak-52," he said.

This year Givens joins the WDRB broadcast team. The man who was born to fly, is bringing a lifetime of experience to Louisville's signature event.

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