Sitting in the rear seat of an F-16 cockpit while flying over the Utah Test & Training Range, Syracuse Mayor Jamie Nagle witnessed firsthand the expertise of the American military, and it left her "awestruck."
"It was incredible. I cannot think of words to describe it," said Nagle, who took a 90-minute flight in a Fighting Falcon with Air Force Capt. Matthew Belle on July 17.
"Outside of the birth of my kids, it is the most incredible thing I have ever experienced," Nagle said.
"We broke the sound barrier. We experienced over 7 gs of force," said the 45-year-old mayor who, as an honorary commander of the 388th Equipment Maintenance Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, was given the opportunity to participate in the flight. The flight included a trip to the west desert training range, where Belle gave Nagle the opportunity to experience a barrel roll in a jet. "I did not throw up. I was pretty proud of myself," she said. Nagle said she took the flight after going through hours of Air Force briefings and hanging harness training to be prepared in the event of an emergency during the flight.
"I was overwhelmed by the training piece," Nagle said. "Just watching the training, it was so humbling for me to see the level of expertise that exists with the Air Force. I was awestruck."
And while she concentrated on just breathing during the flight, Nagle said, Belle demonstrated a confident, calm command of the plane.
"His level of calm, it was amazing," she said.
On Nagle's return from the flight, Layton Mayor Steve Curtis was on hand to give her a Layton city coin.
A few years ago, Curtis took a similar flight in an F-16 fighter jet, given the privilege as an honorary commander of the 388th Fighter Wing.
"It was an experience of a lifetime. It is hard to explain. I was extremely privileged to have that opportunity," Curtis said, recalling his flight.
And the coin? Curtis said it was extended to Nagle as a gesture to a neighboring city.
"We're all in this together," he said of area cities showing support for the military base, its mission and what it brings to Davis County.