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Flying With The Blue Angels Is Not For The Faint Of Heart — Or Weak Of Stomach

This weekend the Blue Angels military flight team used Jacksonville’s sky as its stage.

WJCT’s Lindsey Kilbride rode along on Friday to experience the aircraft acrobatics first hand.

The first step was a medical form:

  • Heart disease? No.

  • Joint problems? No.

  • Do you have a fear of flying? ... No?

Then it was to the Mayport flight line. Blue Angels spokeswoman Andrea Perez lead the riders to Fat Albert, a C-130 airplane.
“If at any point in time you decide this might not be for you, do not feel ashamed, let me know,” Perez said.

C-130’s are sometimes used to fuel other planes in the air and carry cargo. Friday it demonstrated 370 mph low fly-bys and sharp dives.

Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

The pilot, Marine Major Mark Hamilton, warned passengers to hold on tight — and hold on to their belongings.

“[If] you let go of your stuff it’s going to end up back here on the ramp; it’s going to end up broken,” Hamilton told us. “If that’s your phone, it’s going to end up broken. If that’s you, you’re going to end up broken. We’ll have to come back here and try to fix you.”

Then riders filed into the plane.

Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News
MOTION SICKNESS BAG (For use during moments of stomach upset.)

Crew member Kyetta Penn tightens seatbelts — simple lap belts — and handed out motion sickness bags.

The bag was in an envelope with the words, “Do not be embarrassed by this precaution as even veteran travelers are subject to occasional motion sickness,” printed on the front.

Riders sat strapped in as Billy Joel's “We Didn’t Start the Fire” blasted over speaker.

In the air, riders felt like they weighed double on the way up and fly out of their seats as the plane dives.

Back on the ground, many riders had a little more weight in their motion sickness bags. Hamilton says that’s not a problem for his crew.

“When you go through pilot training, anybody who gets nauseous kind of gets weeded out along the way,” Hamilton said. “They tend to not like flying quite so much.”

The Blue Angels perform next at the Great Georgia Air Show this weekend and in Pensacola on November 6 and 7.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.