Cory Kestel, a native of Storm Lake, loves NASCAR racing. He also love flying jets for the military. This Saturday he'll get to experience both.
Kestel, a member of the South Dakota Air National Guard will be flying at about 1,000 feet at speeds of about 350 to 400 mph in a F-16 jet over Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All Star Race. "It's pretty exhilarating," Kestel said describing flying in a fly over.
"It's hard to describe but it's one of the coolest thing I've ever experienced."
Kestel said he's also excited to watch the race and mentioned that he's a big Dale Earnhart Jr. fan and hopes he'll be able to meet a few of the drivers.
His family can't be there to watch, however, they'll be tuned in at home for the four ship flyover. Cory is expected to be the lead pilot in the four-jet formation.
"I wish we could be there but we'll just have to watch it on TV," said Cory's mom Gaylene.
"It's pretty exciting to watch your son do a fly over for a nationally televised race like that," said Cory's dad Paul.
The race will be aired on the Speed channel at 6:30 p.m. The flyover will take place at 6 p.m. Paul Kestel is a retired master sergeant with the Iowa Air National Guard out of Sioux City and retired about five years ago.
His father is one who helped inspire Cory to join the military. "Flying for the military is something I've wanted to do since I was a little kid," he said. "I would go with him to Sioux City sometimes to the guard drill weekends," he said. He enjoyed watching the jets fly overhead.
Cory's younger brother, Matt, also served in the Iowa Air National Guard for six years. "It's nice that they want to serve the country also," said Paul. However, parts of his job means a sacrifice, he's had to leave his wife Angie (Ryherd) originally of Alta now of Sioux Falls, South Dakota and his two little girls, Elizabeth, 2 and Brenna, 4 months old while serving in Iraq. He toured in Iraq in 2006 and will be deployed again in July. However, he said he is committed to serving his country.
"The biggest thing is it's an opportunity to serve my country and do it in a way that I enjoy doing - it doesn't really feel like work."
Cory said he has also had the privilege of flying over his college football stadium, Jack Trice Stadium at Iowa State a couple years ago with another pilot who had also gone to ISU.
"It meant a lot to him to fly over his alma mater," said Paul. He's also flown over Mt. Rushmore for the Fourth of July. "It was pretty neat seeing the President's heads down below," he chuckles.
Cory graduated from St. Mary's High School in 1996. From there he pursued a degree in Ag business from ISU in 2000. While in college he was a member of the Iowa Air National Guard in Sioux City. He became interested in the pilot training program through the air guard so he applied and was accepted into the program. During his senior year he got his private pilot's license.
He trained in Columbus, Mississippi and then Phoenix to fly the F-16 jet. He then moved back to Iowa and was stationed with the 185th Fighter Wing in Sioux City and later 114th Fighter Wing South Dakota Air National Guard in Sioux Falls where he continues to be stationed. His grandparents are Gladys and Don Kestel, and Bob and Charlotte Sitzmann, all of Storm Lake.