Angels Descend Upon Fairchild

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE – The U.S. Navy has taken over the airspace above Fairchild Air Force Base as the Blue Angels Demonstration Team is flying in to Spokane for this weekend’s Skyfest air show.

Blue Angel #7 – a Boeing F/A-18 Hornet piloted by Navy Lt. Frank Weisser – touched down at Fairchild Wednesday morning after a brisk 17-minute cross-country flight from Seattle, where the demonstration team performed this last weekend for Seafair.

Lt. Weisser, the Blue Angels’ narrator, took several local people up for a ride in his aircraft, including Gonzaga Bulldogs Head Coach Mark Few and KXLY4 Reporter Jeff Humphrey.

During pre-flight safety briefings Coach Few and Jeff Humphrey learned which buttons not to touch in the cockpit, things like the button that would blow off the canopy and the ejection seats.

After the briefings and getting suited up for the flight, Coach Few headed out to the flight line for his ride.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and just being out here and going through the warm-up, you’re appreciative of having Fairchild out here,” Few said.

Few then made the mistake of telling members of the Blue Angels crew he wanted the hardest ride the Hornet could dish out. Seven-point-five Gs is the maximum the Hornet was designed for and Coach Few kicked off his flight with a 4-G vertical takeoff climb that topped out about 7,000 feet above the Fairchild runway.

While above Central Washington Coach Few was treated to a number of air combat maneuvers American pilots use in dogfighting; in fact many of the pilots in the squadron are fresh from flying over the battlefields in the Middle East.

“Just about every single one of them has been to Iraq or Afghanistan fighting against the War on Terror,” Marine Captain Tyson Dunkelbergerwith, the Blue Angels Public Affairs Officer, said.

The Blue Angels will be performing this weekend as part of Fairchild’s Skyfest 2008 air show on both Saturday and Sunday.