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Barksdale Profile: A flight with the Thunderbirds

NBC 6's Dan Jovic took the flight of a lifetime last week. Soaring the skies with the United States Air Force Thunderbirds. He shares his experience in this week's Barksdale Profile.
Friday, April 25th is a day I will remember forever.

It's a day I got to experience something few do. A ride with one of the most elite flying units in the world, the United States Air Force Thunderbirds.

My pilot let me call him "8". That's his aircraft number. His name is Major Mike Fisher.

He has logged more than 2,000 flight hours as an Air Force pilot. 430 have come during combat in an F-16c.

He is used to the G-forces the aircraft pulls. I wasn't.

The Thunderbird team did their best to prepare me for the flight and the force of the G's with a series of briefings.

One on equipment. Making sure I understood how everything worked, and how to get out of it in case it didn't.

The medical team too left nothing to chance.

They explained how I should be seated. Where my eyes needed to focus and most importantly how to breath when taking on G-forces.

Until you've experienced G-forces, it's difficult to understand the strain that's placed on the body. Talking  about it is one thing. Feeling it is another.

"Through all the training that we do every single day, from the basics, out to the more complex things. You learn how to handle the different regimen that your body goes through," said Major Fisher. "During the flying process there. Those G Forces. The acceleration. The deceleration. All the maneuvering. Your body just adapts."

Mine did, gradually.

Major Fisher took me through many of the moves performed at the Barksdale Air Show.

Rolls, banks, loops, quarter turns all performed in a patch of air space 35 miles outside of Shreveport.

At times we reached speeds well over 550 miles per hour.
 
After touching down the crew members, who made the flight flawless from start to finish, welcomed us back.

I was presented a framed photo by the Thunderbirds to commemorate the day.

The photo showed the squad performing their climb to the sky at a different air show earlier in the year.

The photo had my name and the date written a top.

It was great to see both, but there was only need for one because I'll forget my name before I forget the day I flew with the Thunderbirds.


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