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Sept. 6, 2012
To see more photos from Jasinski's day with the Blue Angels, visit his Facebook page.
As a representative of higher education, Northwest Missouri State University President Dr. John Jasinski took to the skies Wednesday, flying with the famed Blue Angels.
Jasinski was among three individuals whom the Blue Angels described as “key influencers” selected for the flight, which took off from the Little Rock (Ark.) Air Force Base. The armed forces regularly invite individuals identified as active leaders in their communities to observe or participate in certain operations so they may share their experiences with others. Guests typically include legislative representatives, city council members, corporate executives, educators and leaders of broad-based organizations. The experiences foster an enhanced awareness and understanding of the role military branches play while demonstrating the high level of training required to keep personnel ready to meet the nation’s needs.
“Flying with the Blue Angels helped me further understand the true impact of our armed forces, and it was an honor to participate,” Jasinski said. “To gain a deeper understanding of the training that goes into what our armed forces do and the precision and teamwork that is part of the Blue Angels, I have a deep respect for our U.S. Navy and our Marines and certainly the personnel at the Little Rock Air Force Base.”
Among the others invited to fly, Jasinski noted, was the daughter of Minnijean Brown-Trickey, who was among a group of black teenagers that became known as the “Little Rock Nine” and helped launch the civil rights movement by enrolling in the racially segregated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Brown-Trickey was in attendance to see her daughter fly with the Blue Angels.
“I had the opportunity to meet and hear the story of someone who helped change the course of American history,” Jasinski said. “So it was a double honor to understand what the Blue Angels do and hear the story of the ‘Little Rock Nine’ directly from Minnijean.”
Each participant took turns during the afternoon, climbing into the cockpit of an F-18 fighter jet and riding through maneuvers that had the plane traveling vertically, looping and, at times, flying upside down. At times, the jet climbed at 500 feet per second, reaching speeds of 770 mph, or close to the speed of sound. The jet reached heights of up to 19,000 feet.
In the morning, staff members briefed the flight participants about what to expect during the flight and offered tips on dealing with the pressures of the speeds and altitudes.
Staff members equate the physical stress of one 30-minute flight with the Blue Angels to a two-hour workout, Jasinski said. An avid runner and marathon veteran, Jasinski said the adrenaline rush he experienced during his flight with the Blue Angels and the exhaustion he felt afterward was similar to running a full marathon.
“We started slow with a low takeoff and within seconds you’re going vertical at 500 feet per second,” said Jasinski, who sported a green Bearcats shirt under his flight suit. “We were able to fly at speeds that are unspeakable to a civilian. We were going at a speed that was unfathomable but in a way felt quite normal. We were looking at the sights to our right and our left. We were surfing on top of the clouds, and it helped me understand how beautiful the Earth really is.”
A Navy flight demonstration squadron born in 1946, the Blue Angels’ mission is to enhance Navy recruiting and represent Navy and Marine Corps aviation to the United States and its armed forces as international ambassadors of good will. While 16 officers serve voluntarily with the Blue Angels, competition to join the team is extremely tough with more than 40 highly-qualified Navy and Marine Corps officers submitting applications each year.
Jasinski’s flight was made possible with the help of Al Hoy, a 1971 Northwest alumnus who serves as an education specialist with the U.S. Navy. Hoy spent 29 years as an educator, including 26 years as a counselor at Park Hill High School in Kansas City and 20 years working in psychology with the Army Reserves.
Northwest’s 10th president, Jasinski assumed the presidency July 1, 2009. He returned to Northwest after serving the institution from 1986 to 2001 as a faculty member, department chair and associate provost and receiving awards such as the University’s Tower Service Award and National Broadcast Adviser of the Year. Under Jasinski, Northwest has recorded record enrollments during the last three years, strengthened its financial position against the backdrop of state appropriation cuts, and its retention and graduation rates continue to rank among the highest in the state.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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