04/24/09 — A thrill of a ride

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A thrill of a ride

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 24, 2009 1:46 PM

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Julie Beck gives the thumbs up before her flight with the Blue Angels.

Julie Beck had no idea what to expect when she climbed into the cockpit of the F/A-18 Super Hornet parked along the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base flight line Wednesday afternoon.

"You've got so many things going through your mind," she said. "I had to give myself a little mental talk."

But she wasn't going to back out of the opportunity to fly in one of the world's premier fighter jets.

After all, not many people get the opportunity to take flight with the Navy Blue Angels.

"It's cool to fly for Mount Olive College," said Ms. Beck, the school's director of student activities. "It's a real honor indeed."

And it was a thrill -- all 30 minutes of it.

"Oh man, it was an experience," she said a few minutes after landing. "I did so much better than I thought I would. I'm so proud of myself."

Ms. Beck was one of three members of the Wayne County community offered the chance to fly with the Blue Angels Wednesday.

But of the three, who also included Mt. Olive Pickle Co. president Bill Bryan and Jackson & Sons owner Danny Jackson, she was the only one who flew Wednesday.

Bryan and Jackson's flights were grounded due to high winds and were rescheduled for today.

But that didn't stop them from taking in all Ms. Beck had to say about the experience.

"I screamed," Ms. Beck said when Bryan asked her about the take-off. "It just happened so quick."

And the flight, itself, was "just great."

"At one point, you're literally hanging upside down. ... You feel like you're about to go," she said. "Oh my God, it was unbelievable. It was adventure to the max."

As Ms. Beck continued to recount the experience, Bryan kept asking questions.

He wanted to be fully prepared for his own flight, which, at the time, was scheduled to begin moments later.

"Did you get sick?" he asked. "You look a little pickled."

They shared a laugh.

"I think I might have blacked out for a second. It's those G-forces that get you," she said. "The pilot was talking about something that had happened and I didn't remember it. But maybe I didn't (black out). I know I didn't close my eyes. I made sure to keep them open."

Jackson and Bryan had their own experiences this morning.

And if the last thing Ms. Beck said to them is any indication of how things went, lifelong memories were likely made during both.

"Let me tell you guys, you're in for a treat," Ms. Beck said. "That was really cool."

For more on their flights, see Sunday's News-Argus.