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It is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A person who is granted a ride in an F-16 with the United States Air Force Thunderbirds can only do it once and is never allowed to do it again.

I must tell you. Nausea or not, I'd do it again tomorrow, if I were invited.


Staff Photo


There's a reason anyone who is invited must go through a screening process before being allowed to fly in an F-16 Fighting Falcon. That's an official USAF Thunderbird aircraft.

In October of 2011, I was invited to be the guest "pilot" of the USAF Thunderbirds prior to the Sertoma Air Show at the Lafayette Regional Airport.

I had to not only go through background and security checks, I also had to go through a physical with my general practitioner, get clearance from a cardiologist, and meet height and weight requirements.


me n buzzer











The day I flew with my pilot "Buzzer," I reported to the airport two hours before take-off to go through special training where they taught me how to breathe properly. (Here I thought I had been doing it correctly since birth. I had no idea...)

I also had to be fitted with a special flight suit that contains special balloon-like apparatus called “air bladders.”

The breathing technique coupled with the specialized flight suit keep the blood from pooling in their legs and feet when they hit two or more Gs. Basically, that’s the amount of force being pressed against your body by gravity “mechanically” that can cause a person to lose consciousness.

As you watch the video, you'll notice that I didn't lose consciousness. I'm, actually, very proud of that fact!

The vertical climb at take-off was more magnificent than it looks on the video. Spectacular!

The barrel rolls the pilot did had me giggling like a five-year-old!

However, once we hit a certain speed, I really DID feel like my body and brain separated. The nausea was overwhelming and, no matter how hard I tried, I could not get it under control.

I can tell you that we were going so fast that we flew from Lafayette to somewhere over the middle part of Texas in about 10 minutes!

You can see the USAF Thunderbirds in action at the Chennault International Airshow in Lake Charles this weekend. Please take the opportunity to do so. Those pilots are amazing. They make it look easy and, I assure you, it is not! They train hard, and they deserve our admiration and respect.

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