24 Aug CF-18 Hornet Ride
Cpl W. Drake
15 September 2009
On August 24, 2009 I had the privilege of flying in a CF-18 Hornet at CFB Cold Lake. As I sit and try to put words to paper about this experience, I'm speechless. It truly was the highlight of my career; I am most appreciative of having been given this once in a lifetime opportunity. My CF-18 experience started early Tuesday morning when I had to have a full medical exam to ensure that my body was able to withstand the G-forces in the fighter jet. Tuesday afternoon I visited clothing stores to be issued a flight suit and gloves. I was then shuttled to the hanger maintenance area and was fitted with my G-pants, vest and helmet. Next, I had to attend a “hands on” class in an ejection seat simulator just in case of an emergency. With all of my preparation and training taken care of, I put on my new attire on Wednesday morning and equipped myself with two boarding passes (a.k.a. barf bags). After being strapped into the seat we taxied out to the run way and I was given two options on how we would execute the take off. I don’t remember which option I chose, but after going from 0 to 17 000 ft in about a second, without using my boarding passes, I was taken on a ride like no other. We experienced upwards of 6 Gs flying above the clouds and broke the speed of sound on more than one occasion. We even did a manoeuvre which I think could best be described as a human corkscrew.
I can honestly say I’ve never felt such exhilaration. I hoped that this ride would never end. However, my pilot was kind enough to remind me that they have no recovery crew in the sky if they run out of fuel (the CF-18 has a total flying time of 63 min) and if we were to hit that limit I might be putting into practice the fine art of emergency ejection. All of a sudden landing seemed like a pretty good idea. On my first day in Cold Lake, I was briefed that one hour in the air is equal to eight hours of Crossfit on the ground. Needless to say, once we landed I felt like what you may call a "soup sandwich". With my two unused boarding passes still clipped to my pants I peeled myself out of the cockpit. After stumbling down the ladder and taking a few deep breaths, I managed to compose myself for some "hero shots". It truly was an amazing day. I would like to thank everyone involved for making this a flight of a lifetime.