Waiting for the signal to take off was adrenaline-inducing; the anticipation of the flight ahead was exciting all by itself. But nothing compares to when the pilot puts the jet into full throttle and you’re slammed to the back of your seat as the pilot shoots the jet out of the gate. It’s something I’ll never forget.

This flight was the culmination of my experiential learning component for the ATMOS major, where I decided to do a career-focused internship at Naval Air Station Lemoore, in California. It took a week of intensive training to prepare my fellow midshipmen and I to ride “rear-seat” in an F/A-18F Super Hornet.

techniques, such as how to untangle our parachutes and how to inflate our life vest in the event of an ejection over water. Lastly, we had to be medically cleared for flight activity. Now, we were ready to fly.

Flying With The Squadron
I was assigned to the Strike Fighter Squadron 122, the primary training squadron on base. The two-seat squadrons are designed to instruct Naval Flight Officers whose primary job is to ride full-time in the backseat of a two-seat plane, like Goose in the movie Top Gun. Because instructors would sometimes fly solo, the other Midshipmen and I had the opportunity to hop in the back. I was lucky and managed to get multiple flights in the F-18 jet, my first occurring only three days after I completed my initial training.

After takeoff, the jets do a “G-warmup,” where you pull seven G’s for a few seconds in order to familiarize your body to the rigors of naval aviation. Once the pilots have finished their training for the day, they are allowed to show off their flying skills. The pilots call this “raging,” and during this time we did some barrel rolls, quick turns, and low-level flying.

For the complete article. see: https://science.utah.edu/students/luke-reuschel/