74ºF

Satisfy the need for speed at Sea and Sky Air Spectacular

News4Jax reporter Vic Micolucci rides along with Blue Angels

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The World Famous Blue Angels are in town for the Sea and Sky Air Spectacular this weekend in Jacksonville Beach.

The Air Show will have performances by dozens of military and civilian stunt teams, as well.

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels who were born in Jacksonville, but based in Pensacola, are sure to steal the show.

The Blue Angels arrived at NAS Jacksonville Wednesday morning and took News4Jax's Vic Micolucci along for a wild ride to show what it's like in the cockpit of a Blue Angel jet.

Before liftoff, Vic had to go through some training. The crew chief taught him how to stay conscious and keep food down under intense pressure. It included a grunt, referred to as the Hick maneuver, and then squeezing your legs and abs to keep the blood from rushing out of your brain.

After some physical and mental preparations, Vic was ready to feed his need for speed.

Lt. Tyler Davies was the pilot Vic flew high in the sky with.

“It’s an absolute honor to be able to get to fly people like you all over the country showcasing what this aircraft can do,” Lt. Davies said.

With Vic ready in the cockpit, Lt. Davies shot off the runway, climbing a couple of miles in a matter of seconds.

Vic said the power and the speed was unlike any other as the FA-18 Hornet shot over the city of Jacksonville. In a matter of minutes, the jet was already 50 miles offshore.

Lt. Davies showed what the jet was capable of when he reached a speed six times the force of gravity.

As if that wasn't fast, Lt. Davies and Vic broke the sound barrier buzzing over the ocean. They were supersonic, meaning they were going more than 768 miles per hour.

Lt. Davies made sure to show Vic how the Hornet could flip and dip through the sky as well.

"There's one, there's two. Rolling to the right," Lt. Davis said through his headset.

Two local teachers were also selected for the Blue Angels' VIP ride. Nathan Shoemaker from Mayport's Marine Science Center and Sandalwood High School band director Steve Panoff got the opportunity for their years of service.

“Well, it’s very cool, Vic, because I’ve spent my life serving kids and parents in public education, so to have a little recognition for 34 years of putting that time in, it means a lot," Panoff said.

“I’m never scared or nervous. I guess the thing I was most concerned about was trying not to pass out or get sick actually," Shoemaker said.

The rare, once-in-a-lifetime ride was sure to send anyone's stomach turning. 

Vic said he tried the Hick maneuver, but going 7.3 Gs and the feeling of 1,500 pounds on his chest, still made him pass out.

Lt. Davies was there to welcome him back when he woke up.

"Welcome back! You took a little bit of a nap there. Not too bad. Nice work," Lt. Davies said.


Vic said the once-in-a-lifetime experience was so cool, but after the ride, he was very thankful to be back on the ground.



The Sea and Sky Air Spectacular will be Friday, Nov. 4 through Sunday, Nov. 6 where the Blue Angels pilots said they would put on an incredible performance.

The stunt teams will be practicing for a select group of students Friday. The main event is Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Air Show is free, but organizers said to get there early to get the best spot along the beach.

For more information on the Sea and Sky Air Spectacular, people can visit the website.