Arie Luyendyk and Adrian Fernandez pay goodwill visit to Aircraft Carrier
Scottsdale, AZ - Two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk is certainly used to going fast, as he's held most of the records at the biggest speed plant on the planet - the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
But he experienced an extreme of another kind last weekend after visiting the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) aircraft carrier, located 80 miles off the coast of Southern California, along with IndyRacing team owner and fellow Scottsdale, Ariz. resident Adrian Fernandez. The San Diego-based aircraft carrier is at sea conducting training exercises in the Southern California operating area.
Landing on the compact deck of the naval carrier in a COD C2 Navy cargo plane, Luyendyk, Fernandez, and fellow passengers, including former IndyCar driver Tom Bagley and others that held positions as CEO's and teachers, got the thrill of a lifetime by being treated to the lifestyle of a military crewperson for 24 hours.
Greeted by Captain James A. McDonell after landing Saturday morning, Luyendyk and Fernandez toured the massive Naval carrier and recieved explanations about each function that is performed by the thousands of military personnel on board. They met with the crew, ate and signed autographs for the men and women serving the United States on the vessel before a night of sleep in the small confines of a crewman's cabin.
"This was one of the most unbelievable experiences of my life," said Luyendyk. "I thought I was used to extreme g forces because of my racing experience, but I've never felt any acceleration like we had taking off from the aircraft carrier." Fernandez was equally impressed with the forces of landing and taking off on such a small surface, as both professional drivers exchanged expressions of disbelief during the exercise.
"The thing that impressed me the most after it all was over with was the dedication of the troops on board - they have one hundred percent focus on their jobs, and they all do their jobs very well," Luyendyk continued. "They are so disciplined - it was a humbling experience. I definitely came away from that trip with a whole new respect for what the military does on a daily basis. To think that those crew members are a fully functioning professional group at their ageâ^À¦the responsibility that they are learning there will be great training and will serve them well through life."
At capacity, the USS John C. Stennis can hold 6,200 people. It is literally a small city, with chefs that prepare approximately 18,000 meals per day for crews that live on the ocean for extended periods of time. The carrier regularly opens itself up to curious visitors who can get on a list to visit, with landings being performed five days a week when the carrier is available and not preoccupied with formal military operations.