Jen McLellan traded her teacher’s chair for a seat on a U.S. Navy Blue Angels plane on Aug. 3.
The Mercer Island High School marketing instructor was selected for the Key Influencer Ride Along at the end of July and jumped on board for the speedy scouting journey for their Seafair air show, during which she experienced 7.3Gs.
Cockpit video footage displayed a thrilled McLellan soaking up every second of her ride. Upon landing, she caught her breath and said to a pilot in the video: “I know you do this all the time. I can’t even tell you what a gift this is. This is such a life experience, honestly. I will be that old lady in the home and be telling this story for the seven millionth time.”
A day after returning to solid ground, McLellan shared the following observations with the Reporter about her lofty adventure:
I knew flying in a Blue Angel plane would be amazing. And I knew it would be more amazing than I expected. It was even more amazing than that. Amazing and intense and wonderful and magical. I am so grateful to the U.S. Navy, pilot Griffin, flight crew chief Sean (who I want to have become a teacher … he is gifted at teaching), Seafair, Mercer Island School District, and, especially, KMIH teacher Joe Bryant for nominating me in the first place. The flight was scheduled for 45 minutes, but it stretched to an hour. I think my pilot kept adding on maneuvers as I survived (and giggled) through each previous one.
I have always admired and been impressed with the Blue Angel pilots. Always. Now, though, I have a clearer understanding of just how physical this job is for them. Combating the G forces requires immense muscle contraction and control on a continuous basis. It’s like running a marathon each flight! I am so in awe of how they do that physical side of things and fly their airplane and do all that while being six inches from five other planes ALL AT THE SAME TIME! Wow.
This air flight in the Blue Angel jet was as extraordinary as you can imagine. It is so beautiful up there. And the jet is so incredible — to feel just how powerful and nimble in the sky it is as we maneuver. I absolutely loved my time spent in that seat.