OT-Top Gun

Top Gun

Below is an article written by Rick Reilly of Sports
Illustrated. He details his experiences when given the
opportunity to fly in a F-14 Tomcat. If you aren't
laughing out loud by the time you get to "Milk Duds,"
your sense of humor is broken. "Now this message is for
America's most famous athletes:

Someday you may be invited to fly in the back-seat
of one of your country's most powerful fighter jets.
Many of you already have ... John Elway, John Stockton,
Tiger Woods to name a few. If you get this opportunity,
let me urge you, with the greatest sincerity... Move to
Guam. Change your name. Fake your own death! Whatever
you do ... Do Not Go!!!
I know.
The U.S. Navy invited me
to try it. I was thrilled. I was pumped. I was toast! I
should've known when they told me my pilot would be Chip
(Biff) King of Fighter Squadron 213 at Naval Air Station
Oceana in Virginia Beach. Whatever you're thinking a Top
Gun named Chip (Biff) King looks like, triple it. He's
about six-foot, tan, ice-blue eyes, wavy surfer hair,
finger-crippling handshake -- the kind of man who
wrestles dysleptic alligators in his leisure time. If
you see this man, run the other way. Fast. Biff King was
born to fly. His father, Jack King, was for years the
voice of NASA missions. ("T-minus 15 seconds and
counting ..." Remember?) Chip would charge neighborhood
kids a quarter each to hear his dad. Jack would wake up
from naps surrounded by nine-year-olds waiting for him
to say, "We have a liftoff" Biff was to fly me in an
F-14D Tomcat, a ridiculously powerful $60 million weapon
with nearly as much thrust as weight, not unlike Colin
Montgomerie. I was worried about getting airsick, so the
night before the flight I asked Biff if there was
something I should eat the next morning. "Bananas," he
said. "For the potassium?" I asked.
"No," Biff said, "because they taste about the same coming up as they do
going down." The next morning, out on the tarmac, I had
on my flight suit with my name sewn over the left
breast. (No call sign -- like Crash or Sticky or
Leadfoot ... but, still, very cool.) I carried my helmet
in the crook of my arm, as Biff had instructed. If ever
in my life I had a chance to nail Nicole Kidman, this
was it. A fighter pilot named Psycho gave me a safety
briefing and then fastened me into my ejection seat,
which, when employed, would "egress" me out of the plane
at such a velocity that I would be immediately knocked
unconscious. Just as I was thinking about aborting the
flight, the canopy closed over me, and Biff gave the
ground crew a thumbs-up. In minutes we were firing nose
up at 600 mph. We leveled out and then canopy-rolled
over another F-14.

Those 20 minutes were the rush of my life.
Unfortunately, the ride lasted 80. It was like being on
the roller coaster at Six Flags Over Hell. Only without
rails. We did barrel rolls, snap rolls, loops, yanks and
banks. We dived, rose and dived again, sometimes with a
vertical velocity of 10,000 feet per minute. We chased
another F-14, and it chased us.

We broke the speed of sound. Sea was sky and sky was
sea. Flying at 200 feet we did 90-degree turns at 550
mph, creating a G force of 6.5, which is to say I felt
as if 6.5 times my body weight was smashing against me,
thereby approximating life as Mrs. Colin Montgomerie.
And I egressed the bananas. I egressed the pizza from
the night before. And the lunch before that. I egressed
a box of Milk Duds from the sixth grade. I made Linda
Blair look polite. Because of the G's, I was egressing
stuff that never thought would be egressed. I went
through not one airsick bag, but two. Biff said I passed
out. Twice. I was coated in sweat. At one point, as we
were coming in upside down in a banked curve on a mock
bombing target and the G's were flattening me like a
tortilla and I was in and out of consciousness, I
realized I was the first person in history to throw
down. I used to know 'cool'. Cool was Elway throwing a
touchdown pass, or Norman making a five-iron bite. But
now I really know 'cool'. Cool is guys like Biff, men
with cast-iron stomachs and freon nerves. I wouldn't go
up there again for Derek Jeter's black book, but I'm
glad Biff does every day, and for less a year than a
rookie reliever makes in a home stand. A week later,
when the spins finally stopped, Biff called. He said he
and the fighters had the perfect call sign for me. Said
he'd send it on a patch for my flight suit. What is it?
I asked. "Two Bags."
The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of
"loyalty" and "duty."
Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute -- get out of there fast! You
may possibly
save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed. " Lazarus
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Now, why don't you post stuff like this more often? It's so much more entertaining.
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OT Been there Done that. I got a ride in the back seat of a T-38. He didn't tell me the purpose of the flight was to see how much altitude reserve we would have after a 7g split S starting from 12,000agl. Didn't use any bags. Oxygen mask in the way. Just had to swallow a couple of times. That's harder than just flying his little plane!! Based on my complexion on landing my call sign would have been GREENY. Would I have gone again? Not that day but the next?? You bet. Stu Fields
Reply to
Stu Fields
Most people don't understand this, and think fighter pilots are some kind of supermen, to not get airsick. Pilots NEVER get airsick, as they know what the plane is going to do BEFORE it does it, while the passenger only finds out what the maneuver will be AFTER the plane does it.
Jon (patiently waiting for MY turn on such a ride! And, I've been waiting a LONG time!)
Reply to
Jon Elson
Never got a chance to ride as a fighter passenger. Only once have I ever reached for a barf bag and that was in a low and slow passenger craft. It was my first flight ever, a charter C-47, loaded with recruit trainees, from Ft. Leonard Wood to whatever the airport was in D. C. in 1953. About halfway thru the flight one of the engines was shut down and the prop feathered. It was then I reached for my bag. Shortly after that they fired the engine back up and continued with the flight. I completed the flight with a pristine bag, but I was a little nervous for awhile.
Harold (Collum Puniceus)
Reply to
Harold Burton
I occasionally do. Your taste in humor however, runs more towards vomit it appears . Shrug
The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of "loyalty" and "duty." Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute -- get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed. " Lazarus Long
Reply to
Never had a chance to do it in a fighter, but I have been well stir fried in a Pitts S2a. Were able to hit +7.5/-6.5 g's, but in that little thing, they don't last near as long as in a big fighter.
Key to not getting sick is letting the passenger fly for a little bit. Even if they aren't a pilot, holding straight and level, or making some mild turns, which really isn't that hard, will take their minds off being green. The only thing that bothered me that day was a 6-turn inverted, flat-spin. Like riding a high speed, wobbly merry-go-round upsidedown. Of course, that one was dropping out of the sky at 1000 feet per turn.
After that, he let me take over and try a few airleron rolls. "What do you do," I ask. He replied ", jam the stick over to the airleron limit, and bring it quickly back to center when the roll is done." He laughed when I didn't get it back to center quick enough on the first shot and ended up doing 1 3/4 rolls. Performing a basic loop wasn't much more difficult. Of course, I didn't say mine was round. ;-)
Great fun, wish I had the chance to do it again. All it cost was a bit of avgas.
David Glos
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Now who's SOH is impaired? I thought it was funny, if a bit Dave Barry-esque.
The "milk dud I ate in second grade" however is a direct knock-of of a Jean Sheapard story about the joke with the word about the hocky thing there.
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Reply to
jim rozen
I met the Lt Cmdr who flew Tom Cruise for his movie, and he described a similar scene.
Reply to
Tom Del Rosso
Tom Del Rosso scribed in :
you mean they actually flew real planes for that movie? looked like a bunch of mockups and models to me
swarf, steam and wind
-- David Forsyth -:- the email address is real /"\
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The milk dud was a nice touch!
Mike Eberlein
Gunner wrote:
"loyalty" and "duty."
may possibly
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fits in this thread. Karl
"loyalty" and "duty."
fast! You may possibly
Reply to
Karl Vorwerk
Yeah, good one Karl. I hadn't seen it on the web before, but my wife bought me a mounted and framed copy of it a year or more ago. It's got pride of place on the wall of my study.
Karl Vorwerk wrote:
Reply to
Roger Head
It can be done with less sophisticated hardware. Full story here
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Photoshop and a web page? :^) --Glenn Lyford
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Glenn Lyford

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