Service Academies Student Athletes Face More Challenges

F-16's We always hear of the excellent players from the service academies from Army’s Nick Hill to the more recent Clint Moore who is spending his summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Moore sacrificed his summer last year by doubling up his training thus allowing him the chance to play in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League. Moore is currently second in the league with a .344 average in 11 games while driving in five runs.

Air Force junior LHP Andrew Loyd recently took part in a Operations Air Force assignment at Luke AFB, Arizona where he had his first experience in a F-16. He details the experience below.

 

Operations Air Force is a program that lets cadets experience the operational Air Force first hand. Our group of nine cadets arrived at Luke AFB in Phoenix, Ariz., on 1 June 2010. The OpsAF experience is great, but the most memorable day of the program came on 10 June 2010 when we all got our first F-16 rides.

I arrived at the 310th fighter squadron at around 0730 that morning in order to get fitted for my G-suit (Gravity Suit) and get all the little things set straight before the big ride. I met my pilot, Maj. Rassas, at 0830 before the pre-mission brief. Maj. Rassas was somehow able to calm me down and get my nerves settled a little bit before the flight when we talked about his old Academy days and how the flight was going to work.

At 0930 we headed out to the flight line as the crew chief and Maj. Rassas got me settled in. We went through our pre-flight checklist and Maj. Rassas told me that it was going to be a 4-on-4 dogfight. We rolled out onto the runway at about 1000 and the Major promised me that this ride would make all of the SAMI’s (Saturday morning inspections) and parades worth it; as it turned out he was correct.

After take-off we flew for a good 30 seconds before he flipped the plane over and we flew upside down for a while. He let me take the controls and I got my first experience of being in control of a $25 million aircraft.

We finally made it out to the fight which consisted of barrel rolls, going supersonic, and pulling nine G’s. I really had no idea what was going on in the grand scheme of things, but I knew that we were going fast and I was loving every second of it. Towards the end of the flight, the plane next to us which consisted of fellow cadet Kristen Connell, and our plane did a loop right next to each other.

I’ll never forget looking about 10 feet away and waving at them in mid-air. Major Rassas let me take the controls on the way back to the base as I got to fly the aircraft again. After we landed, Maj. Rassas took me to the post-flight brief. He showed me the God’s eye view of the fight and all of the strategy that took place in the fight. It was incredible that he was able to undergo the stress of the flight as well as think on his feet so that we could win.

After the brief, Major Rassas gave me a 310th patch and a pat on the back as I left with the biggest grin I’ve had in a while. The F-16 flight was an experience that I’ll never forget and it gives me something to look forward to upon graduation from the United States Air Force Academy.

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