Join Keyes as he goes ballistic with the Air Force Thunderbirds as part of the 2017 Grand Junction Airshow. Come for the takeoff and stay for the vomit footage!


Just a few of the words I can think of that explain what this experience was like.

My flight prep started at 7 a.m. at the Grand Junction Airport. The flight was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. I met with several members of the Thunderbird team including the Public Affairs rep (whose name escapes me, sorry), then it was Captain Dr. William Goncharow, the flight surgeon. He went over G-forces and the breathing techniques. Then on to Boddie, the equipment specialist and the proud owner of a huge set of pipes! He was the g-suit man. Finally, I spent quite a bit of time with my pilot Thunderbird #7 Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh a.k.a Lowen.

Then it was off to the tarmac. It was time to fly.

Normally you would start a process like this with a simple starter move. WRONG! Down the runway at 512 mph and then Lowen says, "Get ready for the Gs" and we go STRAIGHT UP to around 14,000 feet in about four seconds pulling 5.5 Gs.

Not a bad way to start the day. It was actually pretty freakin' amazing.

Next up was the 6-g turn. Just waiting for Lowen to say those words "Get ready for the Gs." I stayed with it, no tunnel vision and no blackout. But, jeez the pressure is indescribable.

On to the two different Loops. These are fairly low G, about three, but the view is spectacular.

Then the slow roll. The Barrel Roll. Not the worst way to see the Grand Valley from a whole new perspective.

Next, to the knife edge. Flying on our left side at 345 mph. THAT was different.

I'll be honest, I needed a break after that, but managed to suck it up (or at least keep it down for one more maneuver) the aileron roll. It's that snap quick roll. WOW!

I really wasn't feeling nauseous during this time, but when we leveled off that's when it all seemed to catch up to me. My stomach and brain were having a fist fight. So, yes, I got a little sick.

But, we weren't quite done yet. Two more high type G-turns to get back to the airport. The first one, no problem. But, it was that second one. From what I remember, Lowen said it was only 4-Gs but it lasted forever. I think it was 15 to 20 seconds. That one took it out of me.

A once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will NEVER forget it. Thank you to the USAF Thunderbirds our America's Ambassadors in Blue.

BONUS VIDEO: Grand Junction Ghost

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