A few months into my first daily newspaper job, at The Times Record Record in Brunswick, Maine, I was invited on a Blue Angels press flight in advance of their airshow at Brunswick Naval Air Station. Today I might decline such an offer, not because I don't want to be a Navy recruitment tool (though that would be a concern), but because first-person stories about flying with the Blue Angels are commonplace.
Back in August of 1982, I had another reason for not wanting to fly, and the only thing that got me on that attack aircraft was fearing I'd regret not going, especially since the reporter next in line for the assignment was acting like a dog pulling on leash. I explained my anxiety in my story, published on Aug. 19, 1982.
I didn’t want to tell [Lt. Scott] Anderson, a pilot of seven years, that I was apprehensive. Flying often makes me sick. Instead, I told petty officer Danny Hall when he briefed me on safety procedures.
"What if I have to get sick?"
Hall went on to tell me other things. If Anderson decided we had to get out of the aircraft, don’t worry about it, he said. I wouldn’t have to do anything; Anderson would eject me.
"Just keep your arms crossed. The reason for that is you could really hurt your arm on the way out." Hall’s face went grim as he added, "Bad enough that it might even have to be amputated."
I felt much better.
I went on to describe my 15-minute flight, during which Lt. Anderson rendered me weightless for a second or two, and I got to roll the jet twice. My story doesn't mention that after we landed, I made a beeline for the bathroom, where I threw up. I didn't tell Anderson.
Recently, I found a 2020 YouTube interview with Anderson, in which he talks about how much fun he had taking people on demo flights. "One of the things I'm most proud of is I took 80 people flying, and I had only one person get sick," he says.
Make that two, Scott.
Photo by the late Don Hinckley