A jet fighter ride is undoubtedly the most exhilarating adrenalin-rush experience you’ll ever encounter and the Top Gun 25 Mission is intense!
Why a jet fighter ride
To be honest and ever since I can remember, it’s been a dream of mine to take a ride in a jet fighter.
Who wouldn’t want to travel at speeds of 750-kilometres (466 miles) per hour?
Maybe it was the influence of growing up close to a Royal Australian Air Force Base and seeing jets cut through the sky at alarming speeds followed by the roaring noise in their aftermath, leaving me bewildered, wishing, and longing…
Fast track to 2010 and my partner surprises me with an amazing Top Gun 25 Mission Jet Fighter ride for my birthday. Yes, I’m very spoilt!
I learnt of the surprise before my birthday only because whilst learning to ride a motorbike, I broke my thumb, which required surgery only a few weeks before the flight and not sure if I could go up after the surgery. The flight is also an 8-hour drive away in another State so have to take time off work.
With my thumb still in a hand-cast after surgery, I go up in the most sensational experience of my life – a jet fighter ride in the gorgeous Hunter Valley region (Australia).
The anticipation builds during the one-and-a-half-hour drive from Newcastle to the beautiful Hunter Valley wine region to arrive at the Jet Flight office.
Jet pilot Mark Pracy greets us, provides a fashionable khaki flight suit that’s a tad oversized.
Adding the important and critical parachute, should something go amiss – comforting thought – at least I’ll go down without regrets…
…and it’s on to the next phase of the pre-talk.
A mission brief including how to handle a G-force without passing out and a familiarisation tour of the Jet Fighter aircraft – much to absorb at this heightened state of sheer excitement.
Finally, it’s a leisurely stroll out to meet The Beast – ‘calm before the storm’.
Introducing the L39 Albatros
The L39 Albatros is claimed as ‘the most popular jet warbird in the world’ and I’m about to encounter its incredulous forces and thrusts.
Feeling a little lame as can’t use my left-hand to pull myself up onto the aircraft – hurts too much – a stern push up is not far away. Nah, he’s gentle really…
Strapped in and ready to go…the apprehension intensifies.
Mark runs through a checklist before going through the necessary ground control checks…
…and we’re ready for take-off in this sleek beast!
Unlike taxiing down the runway in a large or even a small plane, the sensation of a jet fighter definitely feels different – much faster for a start…
…and also takes off much faster – maybe this is just in my head?
Intense 25-minute Top Gun Mission
The 25-minute phenomenal flight begins with a little speed of course.
Comfortable with that, the flight quickly turns into swerving acrobatic figure eights. Along the way, Mark checks in that I’m still alert.
Telling me to brace myself so as not to pass out, I tighten my body’s muscles and hope for the best before tripping out on the G-force flying. Seeing the earth slip away at an alarming speed whilst propelling vertically into the sky is an unimaginable and exciting sensation.
And, if that’s not enough, rolling the aircraft fuels a new intensity until the double-roll. Mark hands the control over to me in the back and I use the stick to roll the jet – unbelievable!
This video from the jet pilot Mark Pracy gives you a taste of what happens during this flight…
…and in Mark’s words, you’re thrust through aerobatic “G Turns, Loops, Rolls, Cuban Eights, Hesitation Rolls, and Vertical Rolls” at a height of approximately 8,000ft – not adrenaline or thrilling enough for you?
Then maybe experiencing these manoeuvres at up to 5Gs and finishing off by soaring at alarming speeds through long hilly valleys in a Top Gun mission flight, before landing is enough to make your whole body quiver and heart palpitate.
With the Top Gun flight over but still on an incredible high, landing is super fast and the L39 comes to an abrupt standstill, before taxiing back to reality.
Astonished that I survived, the beaming smile tells the story – can’t believe I just did that and other words of exhilaration flood from my mouth.
Notice the sweat stains coming through on my flight suit? I’m ringing wet beneath – Mark’s suit is dry as a bone, nerves of steel. Throughout the flight, I remember my right-leg shaking uncontrollably – nerves or adrenaline?
Coming down to earth and surveying the beast that just gave me the ride of my life.
The Top Gun 25 Mission jet flight is the most incredible adrenaline rush that I’ve ever experienced, even more so than jumping out of an aeroplane – post coming out next.
This flight propels your heart in your mouth just as you’re thrust across the sky numerous times and remember enduring this fabulous high a week later.
If you’re in two minds about this flight, then all I say is go for it!
Jet Ride The Hunter Valley Facebook page should you wish to see more.
Jet Flight in the Hunter Valley is the only place in Australia that you can experience this flight.
Brisbane to Newcastle
Depending on traffic, the number of times you stop, and the number of drivers, you can arrive sooner.
Watch your speed though as the New South Wales police love to catch interstate drivers and seem to be hiding along the highway waiting to pounce.
I know as I was caught for speeding on another occasion driving from Brisbane to Sydney on my own – it’s a long lonely highway and very easy to suffer from lead foot syndrome.
Staying with my sister in Newcastle for a few days, it’s a lovely catch-up whilst waiting for the jet fighter ride.
Newcastle to the Hunter Valley
From Newcastle, the picturesque drive to the beautiful Hunter Valley takes just over an hour.
The Hunter Valley is renown as one of Australia’s wine-growing regions and boasts many wineries, including boutique wineries.
Why not stop at one of these for a spot of lunch and a glass or two of delicious Shiraz or Semillon wine, famous in the Hunter Valley after the jet fighter ride if you can eat after the flight.
Thought I’d throw in this video of Mark Pracy in the incredibly dangerous sport of Jet Racing – wander if passengers are allowed? 😉