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Marcella Lee selected to fly with the Blue Angels leading up to the Miramar Air Show

Miramar Air Show kicks off next weekend, September 23 through the 25th

SAN DIEGO — The clear quiet skies above MCAS Miramar are about to get a lot more thrilling! The MCAS Miramar Air Show is coming back for the first time since 2019. 

The show has been on a pandemic pause, but now, it's roaring back full throttle to 'wow' the crowds.

Tonight, I’m also revealing some big news I've had to keep to myself for the past four weeks. I'm getting the rare chance to fly with the Blue Angels!

My late father served this country for 60 years and I know he'd be so proud.

To help prepare for the ride and get a preview of what’s happening behind the scenes, we had the honor of visiting the base.

“This is Miramar Headquarters. Essentially in here, you're going to have the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer,” explained 2nd Lieutenant Jacoby Hawkins, who escorted us down the hallway lined with Miramar Air Show posters from years past.

Then we met the Commanding Officer of MCAS Miramar, Colonel Marty “Train Wreck” Bedell.

Last month, I learned, he selected me for the rare opportunity to fly with the Blue Angels! It’s a secret I've been keeping until now, as I was just medically cleared by the Blue Angels Flight Surgeon.

I have just one week to prepare.

“Be hydrated and well rested. No partying the night before,” Col. Bedell advised me.

I said absolutely not and told him I’ve actually been preparing since the moment I got the exciting news about four weeks ago. 

Since then, I've not had any alcohol or sugary desserts. I'm going to bootcamp and working out five days a week. 

The medical form I had to complete made me realize just how important it is to be physically fit—It suggests eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated in the days and weeks ahead of the flight.

It states you should avoid alcohol, greasy foods, or spicy foods 24 hours prior to flight. Due to the strenuous physical nature of the flight, it suggests you remain free of commitments the day of the flight in case you don’t feel well.

There are also height and weight requirements to fly, due to the possibility of ejection. The thought of possibly having to be ejected from the aircraft in an emergency has motivated me to be as strong and healthy as possible.

“I'm taking this really seriously,” I told the Commanding Officer.

“That is super-duper smart,” he said. “Because it is a very physical experience. Very. There's some G-force. Things are moving very quickly,”

Perhaps to calm the worried look on my face, he added, “Actually shorter folks have a little advantage. When you're pulling G’s, when you're turning, because the blood doesn't have as far to go out of your head, so you won't pass out. So, you're perfectly built for the G-force experience,” he assured me.

“That makes me feel better!” I told him. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to be an even 5 feet tall!”

He then took me and the CBS 8 crew out to the flight line, to give us a look at the area that will be filled next weekend with several aircrafts and people for the Miramar Air Show.

It’s been a long 3 years since the last air show took place here.

“It's been a long 3 years. We are incredibly excited to have it back, this is our opportunity to thank the community,” Col. Bedell reflected.

He said it’s great to give San Diegans and others who come from across the country, and even the globe, a “chance to interact with Marines and Sailors, and see all the things that go into making these aircraft fly.”

Then, at the end of the air show each day, the Blue Angels fly, which is always a crowd favorite.

Col. Bedell then pointed down the flight line and said, “Next week, you are going to be in the back of -- one of those -- right there,”

As if on cue, an FA-18 took off into the sky right in front of us. It was absolutely exhilarating to hear the roar of the jet engine and watch the speed of the combat jet as it took to the sky.

“It is absolutely incredible; it is really exciting. You’re going to get to see the world from a very very different perspective,” said Col. Bedell. “Including upside down,”

I told him I’m more excited than I am nervous.

“Be excited,” said Col. Bedell. “It’s an incredible experience that very few people get to have,”

The only time I’ve done something as adventurous was when I went skydiving decades ago in my 20’s with members of the U.S. Navy Leapfrog Parachute Team here in San Diego. Flying with the Blue Angels has been a lifelong dream, and I couldn’t be more honored to have been given this opportunity.

“To help prepare you for your ride in the backseat of an F/A-18, I happen to have the best Weapons Sensors Officer in the Marine Corps here today to share with you some of the tips that are going to help you make sure that you’re helping the pilot while you’re flying around,” said Col. Bedell.

He then turned me over to Lieutenant Colonel Christine “Judy” Houser, who has spent about 2,000 hours in the backseat of an F/A-18 on deployment and during training exercises. 

Lt. Col. Houser explained there's a certain type of compression and breathing pattern, commonly referred to as the ‘Hick Maneuver,’ that will help keep the blood from pooling in the lower part of my body and leaving from my head.

“As you're sitting there, tighten your legs up-- you’re tightening your legs up, using your core muscles. There’s something called a ‘hick’,” she explained.

Then she demonstrated, inhaling then making the sound “hick.”

“You hold breath for 2-3 seconds and let go,” she explained.

It’s something I'll definitely be practicing a lot to prepare for my flight with the Blue Angels one week from today!

The week of September 19, it’s Miramar Air Show Week on CBS 8. On Monday, I’ll have another report on everything you need to know if you’re planning to come out to enjoy the show, which is expecting 500,000 spectators. 

WATCH RELATED: Veterans give insight on the safety of military aircraft, Osprey (June 2022)


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