News 12 Flies With Blue Angels Ahead of Air Show

ROME, Ga. (WDEF) — The Wings Over North Georgia Air Show is this weekend.

While there will be plenty of talented performers, a highlight of the event is the Blue Angels, appearing at this air show for the first time.

The pilots and crew are in town a few days early, getting ready for the event.

I got to catch a ride, to get a sneak peek of what you can expect this weekend.

Flying with the Blue Angels is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

But before we can go up in one of the planes, we head to the classroom for a safety briefing with Blue Angel 7 Crew Chief, Anthony Batronis.

“We just learned about the aircraft, what to expect while you’re sitting in there, what to expect while you’re flying,” Batronis said. “Basically, what’s going to happen to your body, so G forces affecting you, maybe some motion sickness, and then we talked about some other things for emergencies and stuff like that.”

Now it’s time to suit up, and hit the flight line.

Blue Angel 7 Pilot, Lieutenant Brandon Hempler, let me join him in his F-18 to see what the plane can do.

“Are you ready?” Hempler said. “Let’s do it. Give everyone a good wave, thumbs up. We’re out of here guys. We’ll see ya!”

And just like that, we’re taxiing on the runway.

It won’t be long before we’re going hundreds of miles per hour.

“Rome traffic, Blue Angels 7 to single F-18 taking off runway 19, westbound departure, Rome,” said Hempler to air traffic control. “All right, we’re going to get out here on the runway, and we are going to be out of here. Runway looks clear. All right, here we go, Emily. First full power, and right there is after burners. We’re already doing 100 knots down the runway. Pretty quick, right? 130, 150, you’re now flying in an F-18. The gear and flaps are coming up. There’s 250. All right, Emily. Squeeze those legs. Head back against the headrest. Ready, hit it! OK, relax. Take a look behind you. Is that awesome, or what?”

You can’t beat the view from about 5,000 feet in the air, cruising over North Georgia.

And even flying at more than 200 miles per hour, it doesn’t feel like we’re going that fast.

So we speed up, and later reach 6.1 Gs.

These jets can go up to 7.5.

“We have to become accustomed to the G forces, to the rolling, the stuff that makes normal people on the sick side, or not able to handle the Gs, we have become accustomed to that, and we do a lot of training to maintain that, as well,” Hempler said.

Next up is a diamond roll – a maneuver featured in the Blue Angels’ air show.

“So, we’d say smoke on,” Hempler said. “A little pull. We start out nice and easy just like that. We get to 15 degrees nose high. We start a nice, easy roll. Just like that, you’re upside down. Smoke off. What do you think coming left? Pretty cool, huh?”

“I showed you a little bit of the rolling maneuvers we do. I showed you the high alpha pass,” Hempler said. “We got up just under the speed of sound. Unfortunately, we couldn’t break it out here. We aren’t in an approved area.”

After a few more maneuvers, time literally flew by, and it was time to head back to the airfield.

My stomach was the only part of me that wanted the ride to be over.

But it was still a great ending to a once in a lifetime experience.

If you’d like to see some of the maneuvers in person, you can check out the air show this weekend.

The Blue Angels will perform at 3 p.m. both days.

For more show times, and other information about the event, go here:


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