A few weeks back I was asked if I'd like to take a ride on the Blue Angels' C-130 transport-aircraft the "Fat Albert," at the Grand Junction Air Show -- I figured it would be a cool experience, I didn't realize I was in for a ride of a lifetime.

When we first arrived we had to "sign our lives away" and get a quick run down on what was going to happen -- this was before the pre-flight briefing. We headed to the plane where we got to spend some time exploring the cockpit, cargo area and pretty much whatever else we wanted to do. So I shot a few photos and listened in on a few of the crews stories.

The Cockpit

 

Tim Gray

Cargo Area

Tim Gray

Under Right Wing

Tim Gray

Fat Albert is absolutely massive! This shot shows the F-18 Hornets shadowing in the C-130's stature.

The pilots finally get dropped off, introduce themselves and tell us we are in for the ride of a lifetime! At this point Captain John Hecker the flight captain for the Fat Albert begins to run his crew through pre-flight briefing, which to me sounded like a bunch of jibberish!

Watch the Pre-Flight Briefing

So what Capt. Hecker really said was and I'm paraphrasing here; "I'm gonna brake torque this sombitch and fly so close to the ground we're gonna take heads off of ants. After we clear out Colorado's ant population I'll pull back on the stick so hard your toes come out of your mouth. I'll be sure you haven't had enough because y'all be screaming, so I'll "think" your having fun and start jerking the stick back and forth until everyone is covered in each other's lunch ..."

Tim Gray

Obviously he didn't say any of that, but during the ride it sure felt like it at times -- we went weightless a couple times, had .67 Gs put on us and the landing was a rougher than any landing I've ever experienced. My next domestic flight won't be the same -- I wonder if our company can contract "Fat Albert" and the crew for our company plane!?

Tim Gray

In all seriousness, I want to thank Capt. Hecker, Capt. Blanton, Capt. Harrell and the rest of the crew for taking us civilian folk on this thrill-ride of a lifetime. I'm glad I had the chance to experience this; next time I want the "bubble"!