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Ron Buckley will travel to OU-Air Force in style

Jenni Carlson: Air Force colonel will be piloting one of the F-15Es roaring over Owen Field during a pregame flyby.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: September 17, 2010 at 9:02 am •  Published: September 16, 2010

Ron Buckley has traveled to many Oklahoma football games.

He's never gotten there like he will Saturday.

The Air Force colonel will be piloting one of the F-15Es roaring over Owen Field during a pregame flyby.

For the man who not only oversees a massive fighter wing at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho but also considers himself a lifelong Sooner fan, being part of the flyby before the Oklahoma-Air Force game is special.

"Chance of a lifetime," he said.

Buckley grew up in Elk City. Even though everyone in his family became Oklahoma State fans, Buckley liked both OU and OSU. He went to football camp in Norman and Stillwater. He dreamed of one day playing for the Sooners or the Cowboys.

Neither the crimson nor the orange came calling, but Stanford was interested. So was Air Force.

Then, Buckley broke his ankle early in his senior year. Stanford backed off, and only Air Force remained.

"I'll be honest," Buckley said, "the only reason I went there was to play football."

He laughed.

"I knew it was prestigious to go to the Air Force Academy. I knew it was a great school. But when I got there, I went to play football."

Buckley, a quarterback, was locked in a battle for the starting spot coming out of spring practice, but the Falcons decided to go with another youngster named Troy Calhoun.

Two decades later, Calhoun is the coach at Air Force.

"It's neat to see what he's done in his career," Buckley said. "He's a superstar."

The same could be said of Buckley. Even he originally went to Air Force to play football, his passion changed the summer he went to Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Fla. He got to ride in the back seat of an F-15 for the first time.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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