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