Well I got to go flying today in these cool jets and it was quite an experience to say the least, however it did solidify my decision to go to the Military Academy and not the Air force Academy, I would like my feet planted firmly on the ground when it comes to combat.
The Maverick look a like…ahh Top Gun… so yeah “I’ve been to the danger zone”. Ok enough with the lame jokes.
Me and my ace pilot…*cough* I mean co-pilot…. John.
Nice butt shot.
Getting strapped in. This is the part where John climbs up and says a view last minute “by the ways” that kind of make me think maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. It was something to the affect of:
John: ” If something goes really really wrong… I am going to bail out…. that is your cue to do the same. Pull this red lever here and the canopy will fly off…. now these seats have parachutes in them, but not the explosive charge that automatically shoots you out of the plane…. so your going to have to jump”
Me: Pointing to the tail fins: “What about those stabilizers…?”
John: “Just hope they don’t hit you on the way out….
…Now, pull this lever up and forward to release you from the seat….they say adrenaline will take over from there and you’ll be out of the cockpit in a heck of a hurry…….. (pause)…. oh one last thing…. If you live that long, your parachute should deploy automatically….. but if it doesn’t…. it should… but if it doesn’t….. pull this ring on your chest harness….. have a good flight!”
Not your normal pre flight safety brief…. but all the same…. there was no turning back now…. My mind kept thinking: “push canopy lever forward…. pull seat harness lever up and forward…. pray to God… and jump…”
After that spell we began our taxi out to the runway…. I was still thinking the worse case scenario of crashing…. somehow the idea it couldn’t happen to me just wouldn’t suffice. It can happen to me! It can happen to me!
Taking off I was still contemplating the best way to exit and not get severed by the stabilizers…
But by the low speed fly-by I was OK, and was enjoying the ride. Sadly, this is the only in flight picture I have, as I was not allowed to bring a camera. But to recapture the moment as best I can, I will describe the experience to you: (Note we flew in the formation above most of the way…It’s called the Echelon formation)
We took off circled around and made a low speed pass for the viewers, then we proceeded to “the box”. The box is an imaginary aerobatic zone in which they can do maneuvers without worrying about crashing on some old lady’s house. So it’s over a lake and we are flying back there– I am in the number 2 plane sitting less than 15 ft away from another jet fighter going 400 mph plus… It was pretty darn cool.
“Ooonnneee…..Twwooooo…..Threeeeee…..breeaaakkkk” We broke left and down…. still in formation. John inverted me so I was looking up at the ground….hanging upside down in my harness…. it was the best view of my life.”
We were flying down pretty low when he pulled up into a steep climb. This part sucks! We were flying almost straight up! My whole body tightened up do to the g-force, I began flexing every muscle as to slow the blood rushing to my feet and prevent a black out, my eyeballs felt like were popping out of their sockets, and I couldn’t lift my hands off my lap because of the downward force. It was hard to breathe… but we evened out and was able to relax before we did it all again.
As we headed in, John took me on a “canopy roll”. Now this is a maneuver right out of the movies, We were on the right of the first plane, when John rolled up and over, inverted, and I was looking up the top of my canopy, down at the other plane, and waving at them, and rolled right on over, upright, on to their opposite side from where we began. It was cool, sadly no picture.
Somewhere between the tight turns and steep climbs I made the realization there is no way I could fly a fighter in combat with all this crap going on. I respect the fly boys, sure, and when they crash, I’ll be there to pluck them out of harm’s way. But I could never be one of them, (even if I wanted too, quick joke: Difference between a fighter pilot and God: God doesn’t think he’s a fighter pilot)… we all have our place in life….and flying around feeling like your head’s about to explode isn’t mine.
But the ride was cool, I’d do it again, just not today. I am just happy to be back down to earth.
’till next time…