The truest appreciation for science and art lives only in the experience. While my professional respect and novice understanding of physics tells me that I would know what G-Forces entail, the fact of the matter is that I had no idea…
For many, including myself, just the call to do a photoshoot of an F-16 fighter jet would make for a great day, but being offered a ride in one, well that makes for a great honor. I can still remember the call telling me that I needed to clear my schedule and see my doctor for flight approval, my ride had been approved. Now to measure said impact we need a constant…. in this case I hate going to the doctor’s office. Whether I am in need of help or just dropping off medical records, I do not like to be there. However, give me a paper that has a checklist for whether or not I would survive an ejection seat and I will gladly get a physical (or in this case two).
I would normally say something to the extent of “fast forward a week”, but the truth is knowing what lied ahead, time went by so damn slow. Even while on vacation with my wife, sitting on the beach in Kauai the flight was always in the back of my mind. I had tried to convince myself that I had an idea of what it was going to be like and how I was going to react, but in reality I hadn’t a clue. The ability to sleep at night ended with one week left until the flight, even though I had been on a very rigorous workout schedule in the attempt to stay conscious through the G’s.
The day before takeoff I had to report to the base and go through another physical combined with breathing training and then it was off to egress. For those of you that don’t know what egress is (like me), it is a short way of saying, “the plane is going down and this is how to stay alive.” During the class I can distinctly remember the hypothetic world of “can you imagine” transforming into the reality of “if you have to.” Example being, “If you have to eject, here is how to check out the parachute and call for search and rescue.” Yeah, things got real. From there I got fitted for my G-suit and then retired for a night of futile attempts of getting any sleep.
The morning briefing was short and before I knew it I found myself sitting in the backseat of an F-16 shaking my head wondering how the hell I ever ended up in this place. I still could not believe what had transpired to make this happen and all I could think about was the many men and women that have served this country and deserved this flight more than me.
Confident that I would not remember the whole flight we had cameras installed on the HUD so that if I were to pass out from the G’s or get sick all over the place, you the viewers would get a good laugh at the expense of some of my pride. So without any further adieu, I present the video from that day, made by my good friends Mike and Charles.
I just want to thank all the men and women that made this opportunity happen. I am humbled by your kindness and truly grateful to have met every one of you along the way. More amazing than any of the jets our country has are those who pilot them and keep them in the sky.