Rockford resident Gary Haun had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly with the world-famous U.S. Navy Blue Angels during the Chicago Air and Water Show.
Haun, a retired Marine Corps sergeant, was selected to fly in the blue Angels C-130 affectionately known as “Fat Albert Airlines.” The plane has an all-Marine Corps crew composed of three officers and five enlisted Marines.
“It was awesome,” said Haun. “I have been on some pretty wild adventures in my life, but this was an incredible experience.”
Haun has stood on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and has swum with the great white sharks in South Africa. He has skydived from more than 13,000 feet and has been scuba diving while surrounded by several Caribbean Reef sharks in the Bahamas. Haun has accomplished all these things without the use of his eyesight. He lost his eyesight while serving on active duty with the Marine Corps in 1973.
“Fat Albert” is a four-engine turboprop aircraft that weighs more than 100,000 pounds. The plane displays some very intense maneuvers such as rapid ascents, steep banking turns and a rapid descent known as a Tactical Assault Landing that is usually used in combat situations.
When the aircraft climbs rapidly and then immediately levels out, the passengers and crew experience zero gravity, just like astronauts. While most media and demo flights with the Blue Angels last 10 or 15 minutes, Haun got to experience the wild ride for more than 45 minutes. This was because “Fat Albert” was the opening act for the Blue Angels for the Chicago airshow.
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels are scheduled to perform at the Rockford AirFest in 2013.
From the Sept. 5-11, 2012, issue