"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return." --Leonardo Da Vinci"
|On August 21st, 2006. I got to fly in an F-16! I had been doing a lot of graphic design work for the Commander of the 388th Fighter Wing, so they asked if I'd like an "Incentive ride". It was wild---I had lots of briefings/practice on what to do in case of having to eject from the plane, etc. (gulp!). Of course, I didn’t have to put that knowledge to use (not like I would have remembered it in a panic).
My pilot was Lt Col Fuller, who I had worked with on several design projects, so it put me at ease to have someone flying that I had gotten to know a little. We took off around 5 p.m. and flew out past the Great Salt Lake, over the Utah Test and Training Range airspace (border of Utah and Nevada). We were in the air for about an hour and a half. It was crazy! I got to take the controls a few time and turn the aircraft and even do a barrel roll. Totally, completely cool! It is an interesting feeling to literally feel the whole world move beneath you with every slightest move of the contro stick. It was incredible to fly up so close to the clouds that you felt as though you could touch them. I didn’t get sick (though afterwards I felt a bit queasy). We pulled 6.5 G’s at one point and also did this maneuver where I was in zero gravity for 10 seconds or so. I went through some training where they teach you to flex all the muscles in your lower body so you don't pass out from having all the blood pool to your legs.
It was such a completely different ride than your typical commercial airliner. The view from the cockpit was incredible. This whole experience was completely out of my comfort zone, yet when it actually happened, I really wasn’t nervous and just had a blast. I’m so glad I said yes to the offer. I joked with my sons that now they can always win in a “Oh yeah, well my dad....” contest. Hehe. Click here to see a few photos of me before takeoff.