Wow, you have no idea how 9Gs feels!!
Early in June we headed to central Wisconsin for the Chippewa Valley Air Show. The fun thing about Air Shows is you always find so many fun people to talk to and fun things to do. This show was really different than being at Oshkosh, where I'd usually found someone to go fly with. This was only a two day show and each day was the same. It was also much smaller, but that was kind of nice.
The first people we talked to were people who offered rides in extremely fast cars but I'll leave that story to Senior. He got to ride in one before the air show. But we did meet some Air Force people there at the car booth. We started talking and before you know it, we were working on my flying in the F-16 Demo Team plane. And the most exciting part was I was going to get to fly with our first female pilot, Capt. Aimee ‘Rebel’ Fiedler.
Rebel's road to flying the F-16 is a little different than many of the pilots I've flown with. Instead of going straight into the military after high school or college or going to a military academy, she went to South Dakota State University and graduated with a BS in Aviation Education. She actually went to college to learn the best ways to teach people how to fly. What an awesome thing to study at college. That just shows you don't always have to study something traditional if you go to college. You just need to know what you want to learn and find the place that fits to learn it. Sometimes it's just a one or two year program and sometimes it's a full college program. Sometimes it's learning one on one on the job. If you want to learn, don't give up until you find where you can learn or who you can learn from.
When my custodians were talking to Rebel one of the things she really talked about was how you need to be athletic and in good physical condition to fly these planes. Boy, did I find that out later when she was doing the demo. We did a circle turn that was so tight, I just didn't believe it. And the G forces were higher than I'd experienced before, like 9Gs. That's 9 times the normal gravity on the ground. It was super fun.
I only had a few hours with Rebel but I could tell she was a real fun person to be around and a terrific leader. The entire F-16 Viper Demo Team was really nice and welcoming and they are a real team. These people are some of the very best at what they do. It was a real pleasure and honor to hang around with them for a while. There are lots of photos and stories about the Demo Team on the internet, especially on their Facebook page and on YouTube where there is a short video taken at the air show. It was a really grey, cloudy day and the show was even shortened because there was a big thunderstorm coming and the clouds were so low some of the performers couldn't safely fly. Luckily we were earlier in the show so we were able to fly.
The video below is on YouTube and shows part of the F-16 demo and the heritage flight with a P-51. There are some fun shots of each of the planes doing the same maneuvers.
Check out this great video