Doug Herbert to fly with Thunderbirds

HERBERT TO RIDE WITH THUNDERBIRDS LINCOLNTON, N.C. (Nov. 1, 2005) -- When Doug Herbert arrives at Ellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas to take a ride with the Thunderbirds, he plans on asking for special treatment. The veteran Top Fuel driver of...

HERBERT TO RIDE WITH THUNDERBIRDS

LINCOLNTON, N.C. (Nov. 1, 2005) -- When Doug Herbert arrives at Ellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas to take a ride with the Thunderbirds, he plans on asking for special treatment.

The veteran Top Fuel driver of the Snap-on Tools dragster is going to take his first ride on the Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon and he just wants to make sure the pilots know one little thing.

Herbert doesn't want to be treated like some average Joe. He has more than 2,500 hours in the cockpit. He drives a Top Fuel dragster for a living, producing more than 7,000 horsepower during a 330-mph run. Herbert won't close his eyes during any part of the flight.

In short, Herbert wants to go faster than he ever has, so they better not hold anything back.

On Tuesday, Nov. 8 Herbert is going to get his wish and fly with the Air Force's elite flight squad. The F-16 fighter jet can produce a maximum speed of 1,319 mph. It's nearly the only aircraft that could make his 600 mph Lear Jet and 330 mph Top Fuel dragster look like slow rides.

"It's the speed, I love the speed," Herbert said. "I have been dreaming about flying with them for as long as I can remember. This is going to be great. They have rules about how fast they can go because they can't break the sound barrier, but I'm going to ask them to push it as far as they can. I can't wait."

When the Thunderbirds office found out about Herbert's desire to take a ride, they jumped at the chance to make it happen.

"The Thunderbirds use their aircraft to show the public Air Force team work," said Thunderbirds Public Affairs Superintendent Master Sergeant George Jozens. "The way we do that is to put celebrities, pro athletes and other people who have a large listening audience with media support to help get the message out.

"Doug is one of many people we've had in our aircraft. With Doug being one of the best drag racers out there, of course his fans will be watching. It also really helps us with recruiting because the 17-24 year olds who are interested in dragster mechanics are the same people who will have the interest and ability in aircraft mechanics."

Herbert's dream of flying in a fighter plane started when he was a child watching the Blue Angels squad soar across the Southern California sky.

"When I was a kid my grandpa worked with the Blue Angels," Herbert said. "He was a civilian coordinator at the base in El Centro. He was really cool and he used to take us to see them all the time. I couldn't believe the speed. I was in awe as a little kid and that hasn't changed."

Now he can be in awe while in flight. The F-16 performance numbers are astounding. The plane will fly at nine times the force of gravity. Herbert's Top Fueler, however, has prepared him for the flight, pulling five G Forces off the starting line each and every pass.

Regardless of his driving experience, Herbert will undergo training with a flight surgeon and flight instructor as well as the pilot prior to taking the flight that could last as long as 85 minutes.

"This is probably one of the most exciting things I've ever done," Herbert said. "I'm going as a pilot and a big fan of the aircraft. I've watched these planes fly for a long time and now I get the chance of a lifetime and I get to hop on board.

"The only down side, of course, is that the Top Fueler and the jet will probably make me yawn after this ride. I'm glad we don't race for a little bit after the flight. I think I might be throwing rocks at my plane and my dragster after a ride in the F-16. It's going to be just amazing."

-doug herbert racingr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert