Steve flies high with the Blue Angels - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Steve flies high with the Blue Angels

Steve Uyehara aboard the F/A-18 Hornet Steve Uyehara aboard the F/A-18 Hornet
The F/A-18 Hornet The F/A-18 Hornet
Lieutenant CJ Simonsen piloting Lieutenant CJ Simonsen piloting
Blue Angels in precision flight Blue Angels in precision flight
Lieutenant CJ Simonsen Lieutenant CJ Simonsen

By Steve Uyehara – bio | email

KANEOHE (HawaiiNewsNow) - After a brief run through of the rules, the do's and dont's, it was time to suit up. I'm actually the second person to go up, so I get to watch as Moanalua High School football coach Arnold Martinez takes off for his ride, and get his input after he lands.

"My bag's empty. But I'm about to fill it up" said Martinez.

Not very reassuring, but soon it's my turn. Daniel Pascual from the grounds crew straps me in and tells me what not to touch.

The F/A-18 Hornet is an amazing machine capable of going Mach 1.7 or 1,200 miles an hour, and well worthy of my respect.

He runs me through a few breathing exercises before we get underway. And then... we take off.

Lieutenant CJ Simonsen shoots us 1,000 feet into the air in two seconds flat. Keep in mind when the Blue Angels fly in formation they're about 18 inches apart wingtip to wingtip.

So because they need to be so accurate, they can't wear bulky g-suits. So to combat the g-force they squeeze their legs and core muscles and breathe.

Lieutenant Simonsen takes me through some simple exercises. There's the Immelman, the diamond roll simulation, the splits reversal. He even takes us to Mach 1... Or about 750 miles an hour.

"You guys wanna see what this thing is capable of? Right now we're going 350 knots, about 1,000 feet above sea level... and we're upside down! So far, so good. Thanks, Lieutenant."

After that, we practice a low-altitude bomb delivery, which is what they would do in an attack. And while I'm still in pain, the lieutenant's just fine. In fact, he's still got his sense of humor.

"Now we'll do some victory rolls to see where the bomb went. Now we don't do this in combat, but it is something fun to do for all of our friends" said Simonsen.

We hit 7.4 g's at one point. And when it's all done... I'm just happy to get back on the ground. As amazing as he did, Lieutenant Simonsen expects and wants young aviators to be gunning for his job.

"We gotta replace us. And no matter how well I eat, no matter how much I work out, I'm not gonna be here forever so we gotta get the next generation in the Navy/Marine Corps."

"I'm a little sore, I lost it for a little while there, but because of my good performance, can I get a Top Gun high-five?"

"Of course you can."

The Kaneohe Bay Air Show and Bayfest 2010 begins Saturday. Gates open at 9:00 AM with food, booths and carnival rides. The air show goes from 11:00 AM until 5:00 PM.


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