PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Twice a year, the Gulf Coast is lucky enough to turn their eyes to the skies and see the Blue Angels soar. An airshow this weekend means a few lucky members of the community fly along with Blue Angel 7 for the airshow experience.
News 5’s Hayley Minogue was fortunate enough to be chosen as the media rider, climbing into the cockpit with Lt. Brandon Hempler, and she’s taking News 5 viewers along for the ride.
The morning started off bright and early, at 0700 aboard NAS Pensacola at Air Operations. Flyers learned about the in’s and out’s of the jets, how to breath and flex to stay awake during heavy force situations, and what to do in case of emergency.
Practice all you want, and watch as the team readies a blue and yellow F/A-18 Hornet, but nothing really prepares you for the way it feels to fly with a Blue Angel.
Within five seconds of take off, you’re thousands of feet above base. After a quick G test, Lt. Hempler began by testing out Hayley’s resistance to G-forces. First, he pulled two, then three, then four G’s, just to test resistance.
Lt. Hempler started with a loop above Pensacola Beach. He turned the smoke on so Hayley could follow their path as they flipped through the sky. So far, everything was going great; no airsickness, and no lightheaded feelings.
The pair flew down Orange Beach completely inverted, the broke the sound barrier over the Gulf of Mexico.
During the one hour flight, they burned through thousands of gallons of fuel, experiencing multiple Blue Angel maneuvers.
As the trip was coming to an end, Lt. Hempler and Hayley flew the length of the beach, from Ft. Morgan all the way back to Pensacola.
Then, it was time for the G-monster, the lullaby, the aircraft carrier landing. This would be the most G’s they pulled the entire ride. Hayley made it all the way to seven G’s… then took a little nap.
A short time later, once they landed and had their feet firmly on the ground, Lt. Hempler said Hayley did a great job.
“She did awesome,” Lt. Hempler said. “She was having so much fun. She wasn’t air sick at all. We did everything… gave her the full package that we typically give our strong riders. She did awesome.”
A couple of high fives and a framed and signed photo were her parting gifts, along with a once in a lifetime experience.
Friday marks the first day of the Homecoming Airshow. The day show begins at 10 am and the Blue Angels are expected to take to the skies at 2 pm. Then, Friday evening, the night show is scheduled to begin at 4 and go until 6. WKRG will be carrying a Facebook live feed of the airshow, complete with live reporting from the field.
Saturday, the airshow schedule is the same as Friday’s, with flights beginning at 10 am, and the Blue’s scheduled to take to the skies at 2 pm.