Thursday June 28, 2018

A Flyer Goes Higher (and Faster) with Blue Angels

By Kelly Mofield, School of Engineering

Margie Pinnell, associate dean of faculty and staff development and associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Dayton School of Engineering, was chosen as a community key influencer to fly with the United States Navy’s Blue Angels prior to the annual Vectren Dayton Air Show.

Pinnell isn’t sure who nominated her for the experience of a lifetime, but when air show organizers reached out to her, she quickly completed the application paperwork. Pinnell was joined by fellow influencers: Jason Olson, city of Dayton police officer, and Kirstie Zontini, News Center 7 meteorologist.

After a 30-minute safety briefing, Pinnell was the first to join Lt. Andre Webb in the F/A-18 cockpit for a 45-minute flight around the Miami Valley at speeds of up to Mach 7. The pair flew over the University of Dayton campus, and Pinnell was able to spot Kettering Labs when she wasn’t upside down or performing other maneuvers in the agile aircraft.

"It was phenomenal, the pilot was amazing, he made me feel comfortable through the whole entire flight," Pinnell told Zontini. "It was an amazing experience, and I feel very, very fortunate to be nominated for this."

The fighter jet took off from Dayton International Airport at a low altitude and then immediately shot skyward in a steep vertical climb. Although nausea and brief losses of consciousness are common among inexperienced flyers, Pinnell did very well for her first time at such high speeds and altitudes, only briefly reaching for the supplied air sick bag.

She was cheered on by husband Brad Pinnell, a University of Dayton Research Institute researcher, who ironically, is an expert in aircraft materials failure. Pinnell received a commemorative plaque from the Blue Angels after her flight and a lifetime of great memories.

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