Unbelievably Incredible Flight w/ The Blue Angels Over Billings
Everyone was asking me- "so how was it?" I could only think of two words to describe my flight over Billings, Montana with the US Navy's Blue Angels on Wednesday as "unbelievably incredible."
*Update: Here is Part 1 of our flight. Click here for Part 2.
Wait till you see the full raw video that I am uploading to YouTube as we speak. Just to get a chance to shake hands with Blue Angels like Lcdr Thomas Zimmerman, the #7 pilot for the Blue Angels, and see the F18 up close is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But then to get strapped into the backseat, put on a Blue Angels helmet, rocket straight into the sky immediately after takeoff, and eventually pull 7.3 G's...how else can you describe what you were just able to take part in?
The other question everybody was asking me- did you puke? Did you lose your lunch? I was fully expecting to lose my lunch much earlier in the flight, but amazingly I didn't start getting real woozy until about 35 minutes or so into the flight- and that was long after we had already pulled over 7 G's during a maneuver that launched us straight into the sky where we ended up spinning at least a dozen times. Thankfully, I quickly recovered and then we did a couple more maneuvers, did a flyover of the city of Billings, and then a crazy carrier landing back at the airport. (I think I passed out for a couple seconds on that final turn in)
The coolest part about that 7 G maneuver was how we started about 500 feet or so off the ground...we were right over top of some farms and ranches north of Billings before we launched straight into the sky.
If you were driving towards Roundup you might have seen us turn upside down and fly straight over top of you. At one point we did a rollercoaster style loop right above the Big Sky Speedway race track North of Billings.
Another question a few folks have been asking. Aaron, how did you get to fly with the Blue Angels? Apparently for each air show that the Blue Angels do, the Navy allows 2 "media rides." So you have to work in the media in order to be eligible for these flights. It's a way to promote our great US Navy and the opportunities that exist for young people all across the country- especially with our statewide radio talk show "Montana Talks with Aaron Flint." I was blessed to be one of the 2 who got to fly in Billings.
Lots more coverage to follow. I can't wait for you to see the GoPro video from the entire flight. The screenshot above gives you a taste of what you see, and it also includes full cockpit audio of my conversations with Lcdr Zimmerman during the flight.
By the way- Lcdr Zimmerman is a beast. He played lacrosse for the US Naval Academy. After sitting in that F18 and feeling what it takes to try to handle those maneuvers- you can definitely see why these Blue Angels need to be in as good of shape as they are.
Tickets for the Yellowstone Air Show may still be available for the Sunday show- so act fast and get your tickets. You won't want to miss the air show this weekend.
Here's a photo of my wife Jessica and I with "Thumper" and "Durk"- 32 years ago they were the #7 and #8 Blue Angels. Thumper now lives in Bozeman and is on the committee making this air show happen. (Thumper is on the far left and Durk is on the far right). Click here to see my story about them from earlier this year.