As I sit here on the runway about to take off……my mind drifts off to all the thousands of other flights I’ve made over the years that are full of drowsy passengers mindlessly scanning the Sky Mall catalog, sipping diet Cokes, nibbling free peanuts, and impatiently looking at their watch. How easy it is for us to get busy and overlook the amazing mechanical marvels that are happening around us everyday. However, I have no doubt that THIS flight is going to be anything from typical, because the canopy of the Boeing F-18 Hornet has just clicked down and locked in place, and there is no sweaty salesman sitting beside me. Instead, I am strapped into a fully functional ejection seat with more harnesses than I can count, and all that surrounds me is a hard core military aircraft interior, lined with puke bags. When I glance into the screen in front of me, I see the reflection of the helmet I am wearing and the Blue Angels logo across it drives home the point, that I am about to go supersonic with one of the best pilots...from one of the most iconic organizations in the world. The Blue Angels.
This is beyond a gearheads dream…this is EVERY kid’s dream. To fly with the Blue Angels??......are you kidding? It doesn’t get any better than this!
As the power comes on and the wheels come off the tarmac, everything seems deceptively smooth…not that much different than a commercial jet…that is until Captain America hit the afterburners and kicks that sucker straight vertical! 8000 feet in two seconds!!!...... HOLY @!#%………… I THINK I SWALLOWED MY TONGUE! What awesome acceleration!!!
For the next hour we slashed thru the sky and went thru the complete routine that the Blue Angels perform day in and day out at air shows across the country. We even did a few other things that they don’t do at air shows! We did flips, rolls, and loops. We broke the sound barrier. I got tossed around in that jet so much I felt like we were in the opening sequence of the old “Six Million Dollar Man” TV show. If you don’t remember it, just youtube that old show and then you’ll know what I mean!
Everybody asks, “How many G’s did you pull”? Well, We pulled an incredible 7.4 G’s without the aid of G-suits, and let me tell ya… at 7.4 G’s it felt like I had a ’65 Buick Riviera on my back! Until you feel it, you can’t comprehend what that kind of force feels like. When we finally touched back down, I felt like I had been tossed in a clothes dryer that was set on the spin cycle with a set of combat boots thrown in for good measure! Riding with the Blue Angels is an incredibly physical ride, and gave me even more respect for the Heros that climb into this kind of equipment everyday and then fly out into harms way so you and I can enjoy the freedoms that we have today.
Obviously, there is so much more to say about this experience, and with so little room here, you’ll just need to keep an eye out for the episode on GEARZ where we take an in-depth look at the Blue Angels, and put YOU in the cockpit with us!
But the ride aside, I think the thing that was most impressive about the Blue Angels organization was how cool EVERYBODY was…..not just the pilots. The crews, the staff, everybody was so glad to be there and so proud of what they were involved in that it was absolutely contagious. And that brings me to the point of this Blog. If you are a gearhead, and are looking for a direction in life…..or some schooling…… or maybe you are just ready to try something new…… I encourage you to check out a branch of our Military that interests you. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, it doesn’t matter…..they all need you. You’ll be able to get a great education doing something that really matters, and at the same time get to mess around with millions of dollars worth of cool equipment! And maybe...just maybe…you’ll be able to do some things that most people only dream of doing, like be a part of the Blue Angels. The sky is the limit…don’t be afraid to reach for it!!!