Red Wings forward Luke Glendening soars with the Blue Angels in Belleville

Photo by Stefan Kubus/MiHockey
Photo by Stefan Kubus/MiHockey


By @StefanKubus –

BELLEVILLE – Detroit Red Wings forward Luke Glendening did some flying Wednesday afternoon, but this time it wasn’t on the ice.

The Grand Rapids native took to the sky in a F/A-18 Hornet, a fighter jet, with the Blue Angels at Willow Run Airport in Belleville ahead of the 2015 Thunder Over Michigan airshow this weekend and, although he wasn’t conscious for the whole ride, he said it was a surreal opportunity.

“I blacked out one time,” Glendening admitted to the media. “I shouldn’t have told you guys that, but I did one time.

“Seriously, you couldn’t get the smile off my face up there. It’s such a special memory I’ll have forever.”

Glendening likened the experience to riding Cedar Point’s Top Thrill Dragster, but with ten times the intensity. He even said it was more physically demanding than an NHL game.

“If you stayed up there, I imagine that would be [more demanding than a game]. I’m not conditioned to do that, but it’s definitely a work out up there.”

When he was first presented with the chance to partake in the event, he jumped at it.

“I couldn’t wait. I was a little nervous because my sister’s getting married Saturday, so I’ve got some commitments this week I might have to miss, but it worked out perfectly and now I can head back to Grand Rapids and have this cool experience under my belt.”


Blue Angels Captain Jeff Kuss piloted the aircraft that took Glendening for a ride. He said that, with the G-force so strong – upward of 7.5 G’s, the equivalent of weighing 7.5 times your bodyweight – it’s near impossible to train someone for just a one-time trip like that.

“I think he caught up on a little sleep at one point, but other than that, he did a nice job,” Kuss said with a smile.

“Imagine 7.5 times your weight right now while you’re trying to maneuver and fly… so it takes a ton of practice and a lot of preparation, so it’s very difficult to… prepare someone for a one-time flight here, so you just tell them to show up hydrated, rested, have a good breakfast and a positive attitude and the rest will take care of itself. We had a great time out there today.”

Photo by Stefan Kubus/MiHockey
Photo by Stefan Kubus/MiHockey


The Blue Angels’ mission statement is “to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.”

Photo by Stefan Kubus/MiHockey
Photo by Stefan Kubus/MiHockey