FLYING WITH ANGELS
OR... VINNY PASSES OUT
The Milwaukee Air Show is back on this weekend.
Maybe you've seen and heard the Air Force Thunderbirds scorching the skies over Milwaukee. I almost crashed on the freeway yesterday as a half-a-dozen F-16's ripped through the sky. The Air Show is back on the lakefront, and it's awesome.
Having the show back in town has allowed us to re-air what some in the newsroom consider to be legendary video. In 2005 I had the opportunity to fly with the Navy's Blue Angels as a preview to that year's show.
I flew in an F/A 18 Hornet for an hour. According to the aviator at the stick, we did just about every move they do in the show. Still, the only video we show over and over again, is the 10 seconds where I lose consciousness.
The Blue Angels don't wear pressure suits. When they pull tight maneuvers, tremendous forces of gravity act against your body. They call it "pulling G's" or gravitational forces. At the toughest points, there were 7 or 8 times the regular gravitational force acting on my body. It literally sucks all the blood out of your head, thus depleting the brain of oxygen, thus causing you to pass out,.
Why don't they pass out? You hear me grunting in the video. It's my attempt at executing the "hook maneuver" they taught me that morning. While grunting out the word "hook" you clench every muscle in your body. Release and repeat. This combats the pooling of blood in your feet and helps you retain consciousness. Obviously, the aviators are more skilled at this than was I.
I'll say this... ride of a lifetime, but I'm not in a hurry to do it again. We flew just a hair under the speed of sound, twisting, turning and looping. I passed out twice, to be honest. When I went to bed that night, I could still feel my body moving. I hurt for a week. It was tough, and I love flying! I wanted to be an astronaut. That flight caused me to believe I may have made the right career choice.
At least I didn't puke.