VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – An experience of a lifetime.
That’s how I would describe the opportunity I was given Tuesday to fly with the Navy’s Elite Flight Demonstration Squadron the Blue Angels.
After getting a safety briefing and going over procedures with the crew chief, I was safely strapped into the backseat of Blue Angels Jet 7, barreling down the runway at Naval Air Station Oceana.
Lt. Brandon Hempler had us airborne within seconds, quickly flying over Virginia Beach and then out over the Atlantic Ocean.
It was there where Lt. Hempler put me through the paces, demonstrating the capabilities of the F/A-18 Hornet and showing off many of the moves the Blue Angels perform during air shows.
Parting the clouds and touching the sky was unreal.
From flying inverted over the ocean, climbing tens of thousands of feet into the air, and going so fast we broke the sound barrier, the experience was like nothing I had ever been through before.
“You did awesome. That was a great flight. That was a lot of fun, wasn’t it?,” Lt. Hempler asked. “We broke the sound barrier. So everyone wants to know how fast we went. We went Mach 1.03 over the water just east of Virginia Beach. We pulled 7.4 Gs in our minimum radius turn and we flew as slow as 120 knots when we were doing the High Alpha Pass. We got up to about 20,000 feet and all the way down to 100 feet when we were out there over the water.”
Eric Landon, Assistant Principal of St. Gregory the Great Catholic School, and Ron Shaneyfelt, Astronomy Teacher at Landstown High School, both took flights with Hempler as well.
“I’m trying to think of a word other than awesome or cool or amazing,” Shaneyfeld shared with me.
While admittedly I did briefly take a nap for about 2 seconds while pulling 7.4 Gs, with Hempler jokingly asking ‘You have any dreams there for a second?’ there’s absolutely nothing I would trade for the experience.
Especially since my Dad, former News 3 anchor Glenn Corillo, was on the ground waiting for my return.
In 1986 he got the chance to fly with the Blue Angels.
“I was just hoping you would have as much fun as I did some 30 years ago when I did it and you look like you did,” he told me.
There’s just something about seeing the world from the cockpit of Blue Angels jet that will stay for me forever.
The Blue Angels will headline the 2017 Oceana Air Show both Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free and it’s open to the public.