Friday, February 29, 2008

Navy Driver Flies with the Blue Angels

By Lt. j.g. Andrea Ross, Navy Motorsports Public Affairs

Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) 2nd Class Austin Armstrong, No. 7 crew chief prepares Lt. Frank Weisser and Navy NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski for takeoff. Keselowski had the opportunity to ride along with the Blue Angels as a part of his Navy "Sailorization" U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Andrea Ross)

EL CENTRO, Calif. (NNS) -- NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Brad Keselowski had the opportunity to see how a F/A-18 Hornet handles when he flew with the Blue Angels, Feb. 26.

Keselowski, driver of the No. 88 Navy "Accelerate Your Life" Monte Carlo SS, rode along with Blue Angels No. 7 pilot Lt. Frank Weisser for over an hour of maneuvers.

The ride along was a part of a season-long
"Sailorization" process for Keselowski, who wants to learn more about the jobs performed by Sailors in the fleet.

The flight with Weisser gave him insight into some of the things naval aviators go through in their daily jobs. It also gave him a firsthand look at just how thrilling Navy aviation can be.

"Man, it was awesome. For a pilot to be able to make the moves with the aircraft like Lt. Weisser did was just incredible," Keselowski said after the hour-long flight.

Weisser told Keselowski during the flight he wanted him to experience some of the maneuvers performed by pilots in the fleet because of his Navy sponsorship.

"This is something I want to show you since you're representing all the fine Sailors overseas," Weisser said before performing the low-altitude attack maneuver, which simulates the way a pilot can stay below radar in a bomb-dropping situation.

Prior to strapping into the second seat of the F/A-18, Keselowski was briefed on the flight by No. 7 crew chief, Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) 2nd Class Austin Armstrong. To Keselowski, the procedure was nearly identical to what he goes through during race weekends.

"It was also cool to see how similar the whole experience was to what we go through on race day with my Navy team. We started off with a briefing that was a lot like our driver/crew chief meeting," Keselowski said. "Then I was strapped in and we took off on the flight. After, we reviewed the flight just like I would debrief with Pops [crew chief Tony Eury Sr.] after a race."

Both the Navy NASCAR and Blue Angels programs are high-performance, high-visibility Navy recruiting tools.