NEW YORK -- The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will take flight at the annual Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach this weekend.
It will be their first performance there in four years, so the pilots are ready. So was CBS2's John Dias, who took off with the famed flight demonstration squadron to give viewers a closer look at what it looks like from above.
During a briefing, Dias was told there are around 332 million people in the United States, but on this day only two civilians would be permitted to enter what was, literally, rarified air.
And, somehow, Dias got picked, along with, more deserving, Dr. Kishore Kuncham, who is the superintendent of the Freeport School District, to fly sky-high with the Blue Angels. Yeah, those guys who showcase the teamwork and professionalism of the Navy and Marine Corps through flight demonstrations.
"We will fly pretty close to airliner speeds, but what we do a little differently is we fly it low and in formation," Lt. Griffin Stangel said.
That was Dias' pilot, who has been flying with the Navy for a decade.
Behind him, was the plane.
"An F-18F Super Hornet, two-seat variant," Stangel said.
But before Dias and Kuncham were even allowed climb inside the aircraft, they had to go through safety training, as in learning how to position their bodies for G-forces and and executing proper breathing techniques.
They also learned what they can touch while flying, which is basically nothing.
Then, it was time to suit up.
Kuncham went first, on a 45-minute ride that he said was, "Oh my God, totally thrilling, exciting, and something I will remember forever."
Kuncham was nominated and won the Key Influencer Award for his hard work in the community and was grateful this ride was the trophy.
"Once in a lifetime opportunity to go to the greater heights," he said.
Soon after, Dias was up. He got strapped in, ran through more safety rules, and, eventually, was ready to rock 'n roll.
Dias did some Tom Cruise movements, as seen in "Top Gun" and the just-released sequel "Top Gun: Maverick," and almost got it right, but Lt. Stangel sure knew what he was doing.
Within seconds, Dias and his pilot were already in the clouds. Soon after, they cleared them, and that's when the real fun began. They did lots of rolls and a couple of thrilling loops.
"There is pure vertical, at 10,000 feet. Oh God, now we are coming down, nice and easy," Stangel said.
And during some parts, he said it was even difficult to move.
"It's like hard to lift your hands," Dias said.
Other times, they flew upside down and reached zero Gs, like an astronaut.
"Now, we are just floating," Stangel said.
But he said the most electrifying part was hitting a crazy-high G-force.
"Ready, hit it. There is 7. Here we go," Stangel said.
It was the most hair-raising experience of Dias' life, but he added being back down on the ground never felt so good, especially since he now has bragging rights.
Kuncham said now that he has experienced the Blue Angles, he wants to go on SpaceX.
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