abc13 anchor Gina Gaston takes wild ride with Astros players

Gina Gaston Image
Saturday, October 17, 2015
abc13 anchor Gina Gaston takes wild ride with Astros players
Gina Gaston and a couple of Astros players got the right of their lives Friday with the Breitling Jet Team.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The Wings Over Houston Air Show is this weekend and one of the featured acts you can see is the Breitling Jet Team. They're based in France but wrapping up their first American tour. I can't say that I ever imagined I'd get the opportunity to fly with an elite team like this.

Taking flight with the Breitling Jet Team, known for precision and finesse. They fly training jets, L-39C Albatros, just 10 feet apart.

Before liftoff, the French-based Breitling team briefed us on what we'd experience. My teammates include Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel and outfielder Jake Marisknick. Before flight, I asked them both how they were feeling.

"I feel like a little scrambled right now," said Marisnick, "but I'm excited."

Dallas Keuchel said this was something he's always wanted the chance to do.

"They asked me yesterday, and I said where do I sign up?" Keuchel added.

Walking out to "my jet," I felt like I was in the film Top Gun. My pilot Paco and engineer Igor make sure I'm safely strapped in, know what not to touch, and mount my cabin cameras.

And then, we line up and lift off, eventually reaching 6,000 feet, and 350 miles per hour. While the Thunderbirds are known for speed, the Breitling team is known for its beautiful maneuvers, aerial acrobatics. Eight planes dancing in the sky.

I liked watching my teammates fly because I was close enough to see their expression. And while our flight was tamer than the one you'll see this weekend, I have to admit the final barrel turn at nearly 5 times gravity, got me. I couldn't even open my eyelids and we went upside down because my lids were too heavy.

Marisknickand I felt it in our gut but still had fun.

Said Marisknick, "We started doing maneuvers -- it got me, but yeah, it was awesome."

Keuchel is even more enthusiastic.

"I definitely was perspiring, but at the same time it was one of the best feelings I ever had. I want to do it again," he said.