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Freedom in Motion

Years ago, I enjoyed the US Navy Blue Angels death defying performance. I saw them. I heard them. And as they swooped in from above, I felt them thunder by.

Wingtip to wingtip in tight formation, they perform spectacles that overwhelm audiences at shows across the country every year. The aviators and their support team members have a connection. Their teamwork, preparation and dedication allow each movement to be executed flawlessly.

Most of the time.

At another show on a tragic day in April 2007, Blue Angel Demonstrator Number 6 crashed in the final minutes of an air show in South Carolina. In his F/A-18 Hornet, Lieutenant Commander Kevin Davis made an incredible 6.8G turn for the final flyby, became disoriented and wasn't able to recover in time.

Photo: Savannah Morning News, January 16, 2008

It was shocking and saddening to know that one of our military heroes lost his life in this way. There were also 25 other fatal aviation incidents that year (both commercial and military). Each with different situations, they remind us that transit above the Earth is unforgiving when things go wrong.

But thankfully, it doesn't go badly often, even for the Blue Angels. And don't worry about traveling by air.

It is 73 times safer to fly on a commercial flight than to drive your own car (National Safety Council, 2008).

There's a point here. At differing levels of risk, we each take on dangers, both real and virtual. Researchers who have compared subjects in real life and simulated high risk situations see similar elevations of key neurotransmitters in the brain.

Risk is essential to our humanity. We thrive on excitement and fear. Really, we do.

Many of us want to take brain tingling rides on roller coasters. All of us love some type of adventure from time to time. We are thrilled to see experts like the Blue Angel aviators amaze us with their incredible feats. As noted above, these types of experiences affect our neurochemistry in a profound way. 

As an United States Air Force veteran, I am very proud of the officers and enlisted personnel on the Blue Angels team. They represent the best of us. They are a public image of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who have defended our country's freedom since the Revolutionary War. 

Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego is hosting their air show next weekend. I'll be there.

Watching, hearing and feeling ... freedom.

Copyright (c) 2015, Jack C Crawford, All rights reserved.

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