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Miner’s Wild Blue Ride


Mike Acosta of University Relations is strapped in the F/A-18 Hornet before his July 9 VIP flight with the Blue Angels in Pensacola, Fla.
Photo courtesy of Mike Acosta
Mike Acosta of University Relations
is strapped in the F/A-18 Hornet before his
July 9 VIP flight with the Blue Angels in Pensacola, Fla.
 
When Mike Acosta was strapped into the F/A -18 Hornet, he knew he would be in for the ride of his life.

“I want to enjoy this ride,” he told himself as he rocketed down the Pensacola, Fla., runway inside one of the Navy’s Blue Angels jets. “Don’t get sick and don’t black out.”

Well, when you find yourself shooting straight up followed by a steep nose dive or two, barrel rolls, and figure-eights while going several times faster than the speed of sound, one out of two ain’t bad.

Acosta, a staffer in UTEP’s University Relations, earned his July 9 ride over the Gulf of Mexico because of his work as national president of the Society of Mexican-American Engineers and Scientists.

The Navy has had a long relationship with the group because of its efforts to increase its number of minority engineers and those who may want to join its officer ranks.

Acosta was offered the ride during the MAES symposium last October in Albuquerque. The 60-year-old electrical engineer prepared physically and mentally for this experience. He tried to learn things to do while he experienced the force of gravity and things not to do, like touch any buttons in the cockpit.

“My dad had taken me to see the Blue Angels at Biggs airfield, but never in my wildest dreams …” he said as his voice trailed off. “This was the ultimate experience of advanced technology.”

He said the hardest part of his pre-flight instruction was the thought that he had to remember all the information, which included the possibility of being ejected from the jet and landing in the gulf.

The flight was led by Lt. Cmdr. Craig Olson, who spent some of the trip describing the jet’s technology – while upside down.

He plans to share that first-person information with the different engineering groups that he meets with including those at UTEP, which has a great reputation as a top producer of Hispanic engineers.

While the flight lasted around 40-minutes, the experience will live on in a video that a Navy media team produced. It will debut during the MAES Symposium and Career Fair this October in Las Vegas.

– Daniel E. Perez

Horizons Online News. Citing Internet Resources. [Online], Aug. 04, 2008.