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Flying with the Blue Angels: WDBJ7’s Tim Saunders takes us along for the ride

LYNCHBURG, Va. I was all smiles as I boarded Blue Angel Number 7 Wednesday. The excitement grew even higher as we soared off the runway.

“Oh my word! Yes!” I screamed with laughter as we took off and banked above Candlers Mountain.

My adrenaline was pumping as Lieutenant Tyler Davies took us high above the clouds, where the sky was blue and spinning all around me.

“Whoa! Oh My!” I shouted as Davies spun his aircraft twice in a row. I was still smiling at this point, but we were still going through the mild part of the ride.

Davies then turned the jet upside down again for an inverted flight.

“Now you can look out and see you are flying upside down in an F-18,” Davies told me.

“Oh Wow!” I replied.

The real work came when we started fighting the earth’s gravitational force. The maneuver is called “pulling G’s” and the feeling was intense.

“Up we go! There’s 4 G’s,” Davies happily exclaimed as my face turned pale.

Later Davies turned his plane in a maneuver that hit 6.5 G’s. I had to use every once of my energy to keep from passing out.

“Nice Work!” Davis told me as I gritted my teeth in anguish.

The ride was more physically demanding than I ever expected and that’s the point. The Blue Angels hold these demonstrations to show the strains America’s sailors and marines face every day.

“The other thing that we really care about is inspiration,” said Blue Angels commander, Ryan Bernacchi. “We feel that the Blue Angels have a unique ability to inspire people of all ages, especially young people, to reach for something great.”

Davies and I spent about 35 minutes in the air Wednesday, pulling stunts and taking in views few will ever see, but boy was I happy to see the ground again.

“Pretty Cool Experience?” Davies asked me as we headed back to the airport.

“Unbelievable,” I replied.

Since my ride yesterday, everyone has asked me two questions: did you get sick and did you pass out?

I didn’t pass out, but I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

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