By: Joyell Nevins

“Squeeze those legs.  Take a deep breath.  Ready, hit it!”

So say the U.S. Navy Blue Angel pilots right before they complete a maneuver that could be up to 7 G’s – a rate that can make you pass out.  Hence the cadence reminding passengers to push the blood to their heads.

Dan Curran and Chantelle Rose got the opportunity to be such a passenger on July 14, as part of the Blue Angels cameo at the Vectren Dayton Air Show.   They rode individually with Lt. Christian “C.J.” Simonsen, a pilot with over 1500 logged flight hours, on the F/A-18 Hornet.

Rose and Curran were chosen this year as ‘Key Influencers’, or people who help shape the attitudes and opinions of youth in their communities.  Curran has been the president of the University of Dayton for eight years.  This past year he was awarded one of the Top 25 Most Influential People of the Decade by Dayton Business Journal.

Rose is a teacher at Graham High School in Champaign County.  When Ohio increased its science requirement for graduation, she developed and implemented an 18 week course in Aviation and Air Space.  The class is now popular for not only those needing an extra science credit, but students interested in pursuing engineering.

These Key Influencers got to take a 45 minute, 900-gallon gas guzzling, flight on the Hornet . . . after a slight briefing on the dangers of negative G’s, and how to not pass out.

“Just try not to throw up,” warned Seven Crew Chief Travis Simpson, only half joking.

The president and teacher did make it through their rides without upchucking – although Curran almost passed out on the last maneuver.  From the initial completely vertical take-off, to a perfectly horizontal circle before landing, the ride was definitely once-in-a-lifetime.

“It was amazing,” enthused Curran, “They’re so agile – at one point they slowed down, the next second trees are flying by.  I did it once, and I’d do it again.”