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“Hometown hero” takes to the skies

Solano County Sheriff's Deputy, Daniel "Cully" Pratt reacts after he landed during his "Hometown Hero" flight with The Thunderbirds Friday at Travis Air Force Base. Pratt was honored for all of his philanthropic work throughout Solano and Napa Counties. (Joel Rosenbaum -- The Reporter)

Anyone familiar with Daniel “Cully” Pratt knows the Suisun resident has a huge heart and is always willing to lend a hand.

For his efforts, the Solano County Sheriff’s Deputy was named a hometown hero, winning him a flight Friday with the famed Air Force Thunderbirds, in town this weekend for the annual air show at Travis Air Force Base.

Wearing a trademark grin and olive flight suit, Pratt climbed aboard a Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcon emblazoned with his name and that of Advance Pilot/Narrator Major Jason Markzon and waved to friends, family and others gathered on the Travis flight line.

“Make me proud, Cully,” shouted his brother, Chris Pratt, and the deputy responded with a thumbs up.

As he sat in the cockpit, he shared his feelings about the coming adventure.

“I’m excited,” he advised. “But I’m also nervous.”

Still, his smile remained in place.

Following flight checks, the jet taxied before taking to the skies, heading up, up and away for an hour’s journey.

On the ground, loved ones waited anxiously for his return.

Lyndsey Horn, chief of public affairs for the base’s 60th Air Mobility Wing, said Cully Pratt was chosen for his outstanding work with the community.

Mark Lillis, executive director of The Leaven, said he nominated Pratt because of his extensive work with the organization.

“Cully’s just an outstanding treasure in this community,” he said. “It was a no-brainer.”

Pratt is generous with his time, Lillis said, aiding not only the kids with The Leaven but other first responders through his newly formed nonprofit, Solano Family First Responders.

“He’s an inspiration,” Lillis continued.

Sheriff’s officials expressed pride in their deputy, saying it’s great that his giving nature was more widely recognized.

Upon Pratt’s subsequent return, he erupted from the jet a little wobbly but ecstatic.

“It was an incredible, once in a lifetime experience,” he enthused.”Man, that was crazy!”

The pilot, Markzon, sang Pratt’s praises.

“He does a lot of good work for the community,” he emphasized.

Markzon also spoke about air maneuvers.

“He did a good job,” the pilot commented. “We pulled 9Gs.”

Pratt later celebrated the day with loved ones at Heretic in Fairfield.