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The Air Force Thunderbirds take the Atlantic City Airshow to dizzying heights

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All-American Road Trip: Atlantic City Airshow

Todd Piro on the flight with the U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

Week 2 of the “Fox and Friends” All-American Summer Road Trip takes us to my home state of New Jersey — Jersey Shore in Atlantic City, specifically. But this was no day at the beach, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Instead, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget, because I got to fly with the world famous Air Force Thunderbirds.

From the moment I arrived at the Atlantic City International Airport, the training began. I’ve learned that the reasoning behind this due to lack of time is the inspire of the country and the next generation of airmen and airwomen and retain the best and the brightest people in our air force.

The Thunderbirds will be a source of inspiration for the country and the next generation of Air Force pilots — with beautiful airshows.

(Fox News/Samantha Honey)

 

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I also learned how to safely remove a F-16, a skill that, thankfully, I didn’t have to use.

One of the most interesting parts of the training was the medical evaluation, which is much more than just your standard appointment with the doctor. I’ve learned how to bite on my body in such a way as to somewhat relieve the G-forces that wreak havoc in your body in a jet fighter such as the F-16. I also learned the proper breathing and sitting techniques, so my experience is “comfortable” or as comfortable as can travel beyond the speed of sound.

Aside from looking pretty slick, the Air Force uniforms contain a bladder system to ensure that the pilots did not pass.

(Fox News/Samantha Honey)

Then it was off to get suited up in my flight uniform. For me the most enjoyable part was the helmet, because more than anything, it serves as a symbol that, for a brief moment, I was on the Air Force team. But the most crucial part of the uniform (in addition to the connection to the parachute was the air bladder system connected to my legs and torso. This device pressurizes your body in a way to ensure blood flows to your brain when you get more G’s — in other words, it keeps you from passing out!

Finally, I met with Great Brendan Felker, the pilot of the Number 8 of the F-16, that would be my “guide.” We went over logistics and what we would do in certain emergencies, but also shared a few personal conversations about the experience (that the cameras could not be present). Those conversations will remain between Maj. Felker and me, but suffice it to say, we have a number of very special people defend our air.

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I was so nervous on the way to the fighter jet, but the team of Thunderbirds cheering me on was unreal. They tied me in, we have our checks, and we were on our way. I can’t describe what a G-force feels like, much less what 6.4 of the feeling, but I will try: the Picture of the wildest roller coaster you have ever been on, and then multiply that by a million. Oddly enough, however, the smoothness of the jet and the serenity of the surroundings enhances the experience in such a wonderful way. It doesn’t hurt that the enormous sounds usually hear at an air show will not be audible in the aircraft, because the pilots are traveling faster than the speed of sound, and therefore leaving the sound behind.

“It is an experience that I will never forget,” said Fox News’ Todd Piro. “I’m speechless, and that is rare.”

(Fox News/Samantha Honey)

When we landed, I was greeted by brave airmen and women, who graciously gave me a hero’s welcome — but they are the true heroes. To be able to fly these jets is a great accomplishment in itself to defend your country while doing it is not contain.

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We often talk about collaboration in the context of the sport, but no team can match what I saw at the airport. One hundred and thirty strong, working in unison, connected with a mission, and flawless in their execution.

Thank you, us Air Force, for the ride of my life.

Todd Piro currently serves as a general assignment reporter, as part of the FOX & Friends team. He joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in June 2017.

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