December 13, 2003Ok, guys this one is as good as â€śThe Squirrelâ€ť enjoy,
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.
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 dyspeptic
alligators in his leisure time. If you see this man, run the other way.
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
"Bananas," he said.
"For the potassium?" I asked.
"No," Biff said, "because they taste about the same coming up as they do
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
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
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, sap 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
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 did not even want to 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
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.