UC Berkeley astronomy professor Alex Filippenko took to the skies on Wednesday when he flew with the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron — the Blue Angels.
He was chosen to fly with the Angels as part of the Navy’s Key Influencer Program, which chooses people who they believe help shape the attitudes and opinions of young Americans to fly with the squadron.
“It’s important to reach out and encourage kids to pursue math, science, engineering and technology,” Filippenko said. “This was one way to do so — I talked a lot about physics principles while on the ground and in flight.”
The jet was piloted by Lt. Mark Tedrow, who took the professor through various loops and twists as well as reaching 6.2 G’s during flight, which is approximately six times the strength of gravity on the Earth’s surface, according to Filippenko.
“The flight was out of this world,” he said. “They go real fast, and we broke the sound barrier at one point over the ocean. My body went through a whole bunch of really crazy feelings, and I almost passed out once or twice … it was a real thrill.”
Filippenko was joined by Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who, in 2009, safely landed a U.S. Airways plane in New York’s Hudson River.
The professor filmed his experience with the Blue Angels and has posted the video online.
Contact Andy Nguyen at [email protected].
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