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My Flight with the USAF Thunderbirds Part 1

by Kody Mac

Thursday, July 3, 2014 will be a day I will not be forgetting any time soon as I was honored to

flywith the USAF Thunderbirds.

Upon arrival at W.K. Kellogg Airport, I was welcomed by Thunderbird 12 Major Darrick Lee, public affairs officer for the U.S. Air Force Demonstration Squadron. Major Lee explained the history of the Thunderbirds and explained they do more than just air shows.

When not performing aerial stunts for fans, The Thunderbirds travel the country as recruiters for the United States Air Force. Only a small percentage of those in the Air Force are pilots, even fewer are fighter jet pilots. The Thunderbirds bring a representative of each part of the Thunderbirds with them, whether that be a pilot, public affairs officer, mechanic, or any number of other jobs. These jobs and airmen & women blend together to make up what we as the public know as the USAF Thunderbirds.

Throughout the day, I met many men and women in blue and received months of training in the few hours before my flight in the Thunderbird F-16. I met with Major Michael Carlett, the flight surgeon for the USAF Thunderbirds, or affectionately known as "Doc." Doc taught me what my body would be subjected to under the gravitational forces known a "G's" and how to combat sickness and blacking out.

Next up, Tech Sergeant Craig Hall got me suited up. After donning my green flight suit, it was time to put on the G suit, a series of air bladders covering the abdomen and legs. This was fitted to my body to ensure the blood flow during G force would not end up in only my feet! Sgt. Hall also fit me for the harness which kept me in my seat (and parachute if need be) as well as the sweet helmet I was honored to wear.

On my next blog, I'll talk about the flight and meeting with Major Tyler Ellison. For now, head to the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival and see the United States Air Force Thunderbirds in action as they take to the skies over Cereal City.