VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The week of the spectacular NAS Oceana Airshow, I got a wild ride aboard the F/A 18 fighter jet with the famous Blue Angels.
On Tuesday, September 6 I along with two Virginia Beach Teachers of the Year, Brad Ward and Bevin Reinen arrived on base in the morning. We got some training on the hic maneuver, which helps keep blood in the heart and brain when you're pulling G's. I also signed my life away, but I wasn't worried since my pilot has more than 1,200 flight hours. Knowing that, I zipped up my flight suit and got in the backseat of jet lucky number 7.
My pilot, Lt. Tyler Davies, talked me through a few things and up in the air we went. On takeoff, the fighter shot straight up into the air pulling 5.9 G's. Over the ocean, Lt. Davies takes me through a couple tricks, including two 360s to the left and to the right. The flight was an absolute blast and I was able to handle 7.1 G's, that's 7 times the force of gravity, which Lt. Davies said is impressive without a G-Suit. But despite all my efforts doing the hic maneuver, I did pass out.
“You did really well. I really enjoyed your enthusiasm, your energy, your rage – oh that's great that's awesome. That's what we're looking for someone who is willing to hop in the jet, and actually have a blast in the flight," said Lt. Davies.
I wasn't the only one who got to fly with the Blue Angels. Two Virginia Beach Teachers of the Year, Brad Ward the 2016 winner and Bevin Reinen the 2015 winner, suited up too. They both loved takeoff.
"It was kind of like the biggest baddest roller coaster you've ever been on. That's how that was," said Ward.
“Oh my goodness that was an insane experience getting to go up there. From the minute we actually took off and went straight up. It was absolutely incredible!” said Reinen.
Ward handled 7.3 G's and did lose consciousness during the flight. Bevin handled 6.9, but the 360s in the air made Bevin's stomach roll. The experience made all of us truly appreciate what the pilots are capable of.
“The expertise of the pilots, how incredible those machines are and being up there. It's great that we have these people who are looking out for us," said Reiman.
“Those guys are unreal. To do that multiple times every day, I'm sure you get used to it with training, but I can't imagine. I'll stay in the classroom," said Ward.
That appreciation is exactly why Lt. Davies loves being a Blue Angel and traveling for air shows.
"Be able to motivate them, maybe not to join the military, but to go out and do something hard some dream they've had – don't let anyone tell them no, just go out there and get it," said Lt. Davies.
My flight was definitely hard and took a lot out of me, but it was a price I'd pay any day to get the chance to soar high in the sky with the Blue Angels.