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As the 2016 Election Cycle comes to an end, I decided to escape the rancorous political atmosphere in an F-16 fighter jet.
My former college roommate, Capt. Jeffrey Witt, had become a member of the Alabama National Air Guard shortly after he graduated from Harvard in 2009. He was awarded the Air Combat Command Outstanding Aircrew Award while deployed in Afghanistan in 2014 and continues to serve as a reserve pilot in the 187th Fighter Wing.
His unit welcomed me to its Montgomery base to check out the capabilities of the F-16 during a flight over the fields of Alabama.
The F-16 we boarded was built in 1987 and may be replaced in the coming years by the $138-million-dollar F-35. But some contended that the F-16 remains one of the best dogfight planes in the fleet. It can go up to speeds of "Mach 2,” or 1,534 mph.
“It’s a lot faster than your bicycle,” said Witt.
Upon takeoff, Witt yanked the jet to a 90-degree angle, causing much of the blood to drain from my head. Although I wore a G-suit strapped to my legs and lower torso compressed with air in order to maintain blood in the upper body, I drifted toward unconsciousness several times during the flight.
After reaching a safe-fly zone, we did a variety of G-force inducing maneuvers ranging from 360-degree loops and rapid turns that applied nearly 9Gs of force on our bodies.
I threw up several times as Captain Witt demonstrated the extraordinary power and maneuverability of his plane.
After the most physically intense 30 minutes of my life, I was happy to land safely back at Dannelly Field, reunited with my trusty bicycle for the final leg of the Election Cycle.
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