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Being a Blue Angel by Lt. Cmdr. John Hiltz - CrossFit Journal

Being a Blue Angel

By Lt. Cmdr. John Hiltz

In HD Videos, LEO/Mil

January 24, 2013

Video Article

As a Blue Angels pilot, Lt. Cmdr. John Hiltz withstands unique aviation conditions while flying his aircraft as fast as 800 miles per hour for up to 45 minutes at a time.

“The G-forces are really intense. They hit you just like doing a really heavy deadlift at a CrossFit workout,” he explains. “We don’t wear a pressurized suit that allows the pilot to help combat the G-forces that we’re gonna feel. So in order to do that, we have to maintain a high level of fitness.”

Blue Angels pilots work out six days a week. Through CrossFit, Hiltz says he can strengthen his core and posterior chain. That comes in handy when a 40-lb. spring is pulling the aircraft’s control stick.

“In order to just fly the jet straight and level for that entire 45-minute demonstration, you are resisting that 40-lb. force for that entire time,” says Hiltz, who trains at CrossFit 8-Fifty in Pensacola, Fla.

Hiltz will serve as a Blue Angel for two years and then return to the fleet after his tour of duty.

“I’ll take the lessons that I’ve learned in CrossFit and be able to get that same great workout while we’re deployed on an aircraft carrier at a base around the world,” he says.

Video by Lane McCall.

5min 44sec

HD file size: 128 MB
SD wmv file size: 69 MB
SD mov file size: 81 MB

Please note: For smoother viewing of HD videos, please download the entire file to your hard drive before watching it (right-click and choose Save Link As...).

Additional reading: A New Model for Fighter Pilot Fitness by Major Jeremy “Mount” Gordon, published Sept. 5, 2008.

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6 Comments on “Being a Blue Angel”


wrote …

Cool video. I was surprised to have learned several years ago from watching a documentary that they didn't wear G-suits. I had just taken it for granted. Certainly a good training program that improves your stamina is going to be beneficial when you pull those maneuvers that feel like you have an elephant sitting on you.

Growing up in the military, air shows were just a part of base life. The Thunderbirds were usually the ones performing because we lived on Air Forc bases but the Blue Angels were my favorites.


wrote …

John is a really humble guy and a team player. It's fun working out with him. Doug is a great coach, too.


wrote …

Being a Blue Angel has got to be one of the coolest jobs in the world! I'm curious as to why they don't wear pressurized flight suits and why they put that extra tension the control stick?


wrote …

This is definitely one of the cooler videos on the journal. Blue Angels are BAD ASS!


wrote …

After my first post I did some research and found the following information posted in the FAQ section of the Blue Angel's website. As someone with no knowledge of flying or aircraft, I thought this was very interesting:

G-suits are designed with air bladders (pockets) that inflate and deflate to keep a pilot's blood from pooling in the pilots' legs while executing sharp, unpredicted combat maneuvers. Unlike combat flying, the Blue Angels demonstration pilots know the maneuvers they will fly prior to execution, so each pilot knows when one will be experiencing heavy gravitational forces. Anticipating the changes in gravitational forces allows the Blue Angels demonstration pilots to combat the G-forces with muscle contractions. In addition, the Boeing F/A-18's control stick is mounted between the pilot's legs. The Blue Angels have a spring tensioned with 40 pounds of pressure installed on the control stick that gives the pilot a "false feel." This allows the pilot minimal room for uncommanded movement. The pilots rest their right arms on their thighs for support and stability while flying. Therefore, inflating and deflating air bladders in a G-suit would interrupt this support and stability, causing uncommanded aircraft movement. In this case, G-suits would detrimentally impact flight safety.


That's cool Bill! Yeah that's exactly what he told us when we asked. The Blue Angels are very popular here in Pensacola being that this is where home base is, so we would all sit around and talk to him after classes. It is really special having him as a member. Very giving, very inspirational. I'm glad you all are enjoying his story as much as I did!

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