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Keselowski Flies High with Navy's Blue Angels

Lt. Frank Weisser and NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Brad Keselowski prepare to take off in a F/A-18 Hornet in El Centro, Calif., on Tuesday. The flight was part of Keselowski's "sailorization" process with the U.S. Navy. (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Peter Carnicelli)
EL CENTRO, Calif. (Feb. 28, 2008) – NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Brad Keselowski had the opportunity to see how a F/A-18 Hornet handles in comparison to his No. 88 Navy Accelerate Your Life Chevrolet Monte Carlo when he flew with the Blue Angels on Tuesday.

Keselowski went for a ride with Blue Angels No. 7 pilot Lt. Frank Weisser for more than an hour of tactical maneuvers. The ride-along was a part of the season-long “sailorization” process for Keselowski, who is learning more about the jobs performed by sailors in the fleet. The flight with Weisser gave him insight into some of the things naval aviators go through in their daily jobs. It also gave him a firsthand look at just how thrilling Navy aviation can be.

“Man, it was awesome,” Keselowski said. “That’s definitely a wild ride that I’ll never forget.

“For a pilot to be able to make the moves with the aircraft like Lt. Weisser did was just incredible.”

Some of the maneuvers Keselowski experienced included: a ridgeline crossing, a simulated low-altitude attack, going supersonic (faster than 650 knots), low-ground flying, and a minimum radius turn. While Keselowski is accustomed to feeling the effects of g-forces on the race track, the sustained g-force of 7.5 Gs he experienced during the flight was a new encounter for the young driver.

Weisser told Keselowski during the flight he wanted him to experience some of the maneuvers performed by pilots in the fleet because of his Navy sponsorship.

“This is something I want to show you since you’re representing all the fine sailors overseas,” Weisser said before performing the low-altitude attack maneuver, which simulates the way a pilot can stay below radar in a bomb-dropping situation.

Prior to strapping into the second seat of the F/A-18, Keselowski was briefed on the flight by No. 7 crew chief AME2 Austin Armstrong. To Keselowski, the procedure was nearly identical to what he goes through during race weekends.

“It was also cool to see how similar the whole experience was to what we go through on race day with my Navy team,” Keselowski said. “We started off with a briefing that was a lot like our driver/crew chief meeting. Then I was strapped in and we took off on the flight. After, we reviewed the flight just like I would debrief with Pops [crew chief Tony Eury Sr.] after a race.”

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