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7News Reporter Re'Chelle Turner flies with U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds

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ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, OK (KSWO)- The 2017 Airpower Over Altus Airshow starts Saturday.It's free to the public and features nearly 50 aircraft shows and demonstrations from the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, Wings of Blue, KC-135 and the C-17 Globemaster III.

About a dozen aircraft's flew over Altus Air Force Base for the practice show.

Commander for the 97th Air Mobility Wing, Colonel Eric Carney, said the real fun starts Saturday morning.

"Everyone is invited. It's going to be beautiful weather we have a lot of great acts, and performances. We are looking to demonstrate America's Air power to the men and women that come out," said Carney.

Headlining this year's show is the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. They will begin their performance at 3 p.m. 7News Reporter Re'Chelle Turner had the opportunity to fly with the Thunderbirds.From high speeds to vertical loops and inverted upside-down fly-bys, Re'Chelle did it all.

"Flying with the Tundersbirds was amazing, and I will never forget the mind-blowing experience," said 7News Reporter Re'Chelle Turner.

Over the past two days, you've probably seen the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds racing through the skies over southwestern Oklahoma as they prepare for The Airpower Over Altus Airshow.

The elite Thunderbird team is made up of highly experienced F-16 fighter pilots who travel to nearly 40 bases each year showing off their skills.

But I got a different perspective of the team, an opportunity to fly with them, but first I had to be briefed. Master Sergeant Chrissy Best is Superintendent of Public Affairs.She told me about the history of the Thunderbirds and what the Ambassadors in Blue do in the air.

Next I met with Captain Thunderbird Number 9 Doctor Glen Goncharow. He taught me a breathing technique known as a "Hook Maneuver," which is designed to maximize lung capacity while experiencing the G-force.


"The way G's are created is speed and change in nose direction," said Goncharow.

Next it was time for me to suit up, but I wasn't ready to go just yet! I had to get my patches.

First, it was the Air Combat Command patch. Next, the 57th Wing patch, followed by the official Thunderbird Patch! I was fitted for my helmet and breathing mask. Just in time for one last briefing from Thunderbird Number 7 Captain Lt.Colonel  Kevin Walsh.

"A once in a lifetime opportunity so get to be a part of that is actually pretty cool," said Walsh.

Now the moment, I've been waiting for! I climbed aboard and the F-16 aircraft even had my name on it. After getting strapped in it was finally time for take off!

We flew over 600 miles per hour straight into the air pulling 6 G's.We started with a loop straight over the top.I could see everything below me, the sight was breath taking.Then it was time to try out some of the demonstrations. We started with four barrel rolls, and then loops, twists, and flying upside down!
Captain Walsh was amazed I pulled 9.2 G's without passing out or getting sick.We even flew over Mangum, and Hollis. I also took tons of selfies.
Before I knew it, we landed back at Altus Air Force base!

I was given a framed picture of the Thunderbirds in the legendary Diamond formation and my official certificate from Captain Walsh.

If you would like to see the Thunderbirds you can meet them Saturday at the Airpower over Altus Airshow.
But they are not the only ones performing. You can also see demonstrations from the C-17 Globemaster III and KC 135, Piper Cubs, and Vampire.

Doors will open at 9 a.m. More information can be found on the Altus Air Force Base website.

Copyright 2017 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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