The Navy’s Blue Angels occasionally put a local reporter in the backseat of one of their F/A-18s and take them up for a spin.  They’re called “media rides” and they usually generate very favorable coverage and publicity for the military.

Recently, the Navy flight demonstration team was in the Quad Cities area, and reporter Christie Nicks of WTVO/WQRF went along for the ride.  Apparently, she forgot that part of the pre-flight briefing about keeping your body against the seat/headrest, and doing a “strain” maneuver when G-forces start to increase.  The result?  One unconscious reporter in the back seat.

If it’s any consolation to Ms. Nicks, she’s not the only journalist to black out during a media ride.  Fox and Friends meteorologist Maria Molina passed out during her Blue Angels flight in March of 2014 and Steve Beatty of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution lost consciousness three times during a backseat ride with the Blues.

During my military career, I was lucky enough to get back-seat rides in both the F-15 and F-16; if you’re not used to pulling Gs, lose situational awareness and forget about your strain maneuver, you will pass out, even with a minimal G-load.  I remember sitting in the rear seat of an F-15D, conducting BFM against AT-38s.  Sweating buckets and doing my best strain, I was doing my best to fight off a gray-out.  Meanwhile, the IP up front was leaning forward and looking around, no problem at all as he maintained visual on one of the AT-38s.  The G meter was somewhere between 5 and 6.  Experience, practice and conditioning make a big difference.   

In fairness, I was wearing a G-suit during my flights, which certainly helps you maintain consciousness. Navy and Marine Corps pilots who fly with the Blues do not wear a G-suit, and I’m not sure if their passengers wear one, either.  If you’re a civilian and not used to the effects of gravitational forces, it would be very tough to climb into an F/A-18 and remain conscious if you’re not wearing a G-suit.

At least they didn’t puke–as far as I can tell.  Orientation flight etiquette says if you leave your lunch in the back seat, you’ve got to clean it up.  I somehow managed to avoid that embarrassment as well.