CHEYENNE, Wyo. (CBS4) – Wes Welker apparently had a need for speed on his last free week before the start of training camp.
On Sunday in Cheyenne the Denver Broncos wide receiver accepted the invitation to jump into the cockpit of an F-16 with the Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s official demonstration team.
Welker said he was excited by the opportunity.
“I hope you like roller coasters?” a Thunderbirds member asked Welker during his training session before taking flight.
“Yes,” Welker said.
“Well, this is going to be a roller coaster on steriods,” the trainer said.
“My first goal is to not throw up,” Welker said before boarding the plane. “And then my second goal would be not to pass out.”
Maj. Caroline Jensen described the anticipation for the flight as the “hardest part of the whole thing.”
“I think Wes is going to love it,” she said. “It’s a good adrenaline rush, and I’m sure he gets a lot of that just from stepping out on the football field. It’s a very physical thing, so he’ll be well adapted to that as well.”
Just after takeoff, a camera in the cockpit with Welker showed him at the point in the flight where Jensen said the pilot “first lights the afterburner for the takeoff and pulls straight up.” Welker had an intense look on his face as he was pushed back into his seat.
“You engage your core muscles just to stay sitting upright,” she said. “And the airfield behind you becomes a dot in about 3 to 5 seconds.”
“You’re contracting every single muscle in your body, and just trying to stay focused throughout it and staying on your breathing,” Welker said. “As far as the adrenalyn, I’d say it’s like (playing in) a game.”
Although he admitted it was tough, Welker kept his composure during the flight. Maj. Michael Fisher, who was piloting the plane, said his passenger “hung strong.”
After he was back on the ground, Welker joked that “the lunch stayed down.”
“Trust me, there were times where I wanted to pull the bag out but I held strong and was able to get through it,” Welker said.
“We (football players) definitely do a lot of training, but the amount of training that they go through and what they do to learn all this stuff is pretty amazing. It’s definitely a true skill,” he said. “I’m just glad I got to see it first hand.”
The Thunderbirds have been in existance since 1953, and over that time 325 officers have worn the distinguished emblem of America’s ambassadors in blue.
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