KKCO 11 News takes to the skies with the Blue Angels

By: Brian Shlonsky Email
By: Brian Shlonsky Email

They are the popular guys, for some, the highlight of any air show. Of course, we’re talking about the Blue Angels. Friday, KKCO 11 News reporter Brian Shlonsky and web producer Andie Adams took to the skies with some of the best pilots in the world, riding in Fat Albert, the cargo plane for the Blue Angels.

The F- 18 hornet flies at mach 1.7 speed, and is the signature aircraft of the Blue Angels. But the flashy F-18’s can’t do the show without their jumbo- sized cousin.

"Fat Albert joined the team in 1970, it's an all Marine crew, we've been all- Marine since the 1970's," Captain Jon Hecker said.

Fat Albert is a C-130 that carries 130 Navy sailors and Marines all over the country.

"We put ‘em all on Fat Albert, along with 35,000 pounds of tools and equipment, and we bring them to each show site, and they make sure that these jets put on a show everywhere we go, there's never been a show missed," Hecker said.

Fat Albert is big, weighing 79,000 pounds empty, with a 132- foot wing span, making it the biggest Marine Corps aircraft, but just because it's big, doesn't mean it's not fast.

"I'm a little nervous, but I like roller coasters and stuff," Josh O’Neil said shortly before boarding Fat Albert.

It’s a good thing O’Neil likes roller coasters, because he’s about to experience zero gravity twice, and take off at a 45 degree angle, in comparison to a normal commercial flight that only hits about 15 degrees.

"I've heard a lot of people tell me grab the barf bag, so, I'm hoping I don't have to," O’Neil said.

After briefing the crew and passengers and checking the plane, it was up, up and away, Fat Albert flying at 320 knots, just fast enough to give a Fruita Monument High School teacher who was on board, something to bring back to his students.

"My favorite part was the feeling zero gravity, and we talk about that a lot in class, so it will be cool to bring that back and say that I actually experienced that," physics teacher Caleb Hicks said.

For KKCO 11 News’ riders, the ride was just as crazy, sending us flying out of our seats when the plane hits zero gravity.

To check out the Blue Angels performing in Grand Junction, stop by the air show Saturday or Sunday at 3 p.m.

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