Flying With The Thunderbirds - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Flying With The Thunderbirds

Posted: Updated:
KALISPELL -
I suited up yesterday and spent nearly an hour over Glacier National Park and Browning.

It was incredible.

I was definitely nervous going into it, and now I know for sure my dream of being a pilot is dead, because I can't believe what these men and women do every day.

The flight itself was scheduled to take off around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, but the briefings started around noon. I had a lot to learn before I could climb into the cockpit of an F-16.

The G suit might not be the most flattering silhouette, but it kept me from passing out. That and the advice from flight surgeon Major Michael Carletti.

The problem is when these aircrafts get going fast enough, it can force your blood down into your feet. The suit hugs you like a blood pressure cuff at Safeway to keep that from happening, but you also have to tense your muscles.

My pilot was Major Tyler Ellison. He and all the other pilots each have at least 10 years of experience, roughly more than 750 hours of training.

"It's always been a dream of mine to fly fighters. As a young kid I decided to pursue the Air Force as a career because that was something I thought would be pretty cool and it's turned out to be very rewarding," said Ellison.

I'm not a real nature lover, but I couldn't help but stare in awe at some of the high-up lakes and peaks as we soared over Glacier National Park.

"There's very few places in the world that has scenery like this," said Ellison.

For me, a little up there goes a long way, but demo pilots fly twice a day every day during training season.

To give you an idea of how big the F-16 is, it's 31 feet across and almost 50 feet long.

It can climb 30,000 feet per minute, which I found out soon after take off when we went straight up in the air.

  • NationalMore>>

  • Q&A: Why Colorado, Arizona teachers are walking off the job

    Q&A: Why Colorado, Arizona teachers are walking off the job

    Thursday, April 26 2018 3:51 AM EDT2018-04-26 07:51:47 GMT
    (AP Photo/Matt York). Teachers from Highland Arts Elementary School stage a final walk-in Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Mesa, Ariz. Communities and school districts are preparing for a historic statewide teacher walkout on Thursday that could keep hund...(AP Photo/Matt York). Teachers from Highland Arts Elementary School stage a final walk-in Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Mesa, Ariz. Communities and school districts are preparing for a historic statewide teacher walkout on Thursday that could keep hund...
    Tens of thousands of schoolteachers are walking off the job in Colorado and Arizona, though their demands and state laws on walkouts differ.More >>
    Tens of thousands of schoolteachers are walking off the job in Colorado and Arizona, though their demands and state laws on walkouts differ.More >>
  • Thousands of teachers in Arizona, Colorado to protest

    Thousands of teachers in Arizona, Colorado to protest

    Thursday, April 26 2018 3:51 AM EDT2018-04-26 07:51:37 GMT
    (AP Photo/Matt York). Highland Arts Elementary School kindergarten teacher Melissa Perez participates in a final walk-in Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Mesa, Ariz. Communities and school districts are preparing for a historic statewide teacher walkout o...(AP Photo/Matt York). Highland Arts Elementary School kindergarten teacher Melissa Perez participates in a final walk-in Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Mesa, Ariz. Communities and school districts are preparing for a historic statewide teacher walkout o...
    Tens of thousands of teachers in Arizona and Colorado will shut down schools to protest low pay and funding.More >>
    Tens of thousands of teachers in Arizona and Colorado will shut down schools to protest low pay and funding.More >>
  • Lawyer: Trump ready for role in raids' evidence review

    Lawyer: Trump ready for role in raids' evidence review

    Thursday, April 26 2018 3:51 AM EDT2018-04-26 07:51:21 GMT
    (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File). FILE - In this April 16, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, center, leaves federal court, in New York. A New York judge wants more information from prosecutors and lawyers for Pr...(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File). FILE - In this April 16, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, center, leaves federal court, in New York. A New York judge wants more information from prosecutors and lawyers for Pr...
    A lawyer for Donald Trump says the president is ready to offer his opinion on what evidence seized from his personal attorney's home and office are protected by attorney-client privilege.More >>
    A lawyer for Donald Trump says the president is ready to offer his opinion on what evidence seized from his personal attorney's home and office are protected by attorney-client privilege.More >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/