Knicely Done: Blue Angels Ride Of A Lifetime

There were a lot of pre-flight instructions but one in particular really stood out: "The airsickness bags are right there by your arm."

It's something this reporter thought about a lot in anticipation of a once in a lifetime opportunity to fly with the famed Blue Angels in advance of their performance at the Offutt Air Show on Saturday and Sunday.

Once I was securely strapped in the cockpit, Lt Ryan Chamberlain gave the F-18 a walk around inspection, climbed the ladder and said, "John are you ready to go?"

It seemed before I could answer we were roaring just above the runway with Lt Chamberlain casually calling off our rapidly increasing speed.

Finally he said, "John her we go. Hit it.!"

With that we were nose straight up like a rocket ship with what seemed like an effortless ascent through the clouds over Omaha.

The assigned air space for the maneuvers was just southwest of Lincoln.

"We're moving at 700 miles per hour," announced Lt Chamberlain. "Our trip to Lincoln should take about six minutes."

Thankfully, Lt Chamberlain eased in the routine with a slow 360 degree role that required none of the special endurance techniques that were outlined in the morning briefing.

From there it was a series of snap 360 degree rolls, a chance for me to push the throttle and accelerate from 150 mph to 700 mph in thirty seconds, and then the introduction to G-force.

"Here's the feel of three Gs, you should be fine," he said.

And he was right. It was the eventual boost to 7 Gs that really tested this reporter's limits.

"Squeeze your buttocks out of the seat and you'll be fine,"

I did and at the end of the 8 second maneuver it was as if the world went silent with clouds still in sight. A momentary lapse and I was back.

The entire flight lasted forty five minutes and the good news for me, the air sickness bag was not needed.

But the flight ended with another 7 G bank that again pushed this reporter to the edge of unconsciousness.

"John? Are you with me."

With that, I snapped back in focus and with a smooth landing the Blue Angel flight was over. A once in a lifetime flight that underscores for me the exceptional skills of these elite pilots.

"He did great," said Lt Chamberlain. "We did 7.3 Gs twice and he didn't get sick. Great!"

Fortunately for me, that little venture into La La land was short lived.

Knicely Done!


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