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Fly like an Angel

There's blue sky on the left, then the right. Then suddenly, there's a long strip of beach from somewhere in the Panhandle. The jet up ahead is flipping over and flying upside down, and Bryce Thomas, 17, who's being bumped around with his buddies, is wondering aloud, "They're not going to flip us over, are they?"

Not to worry.

It's a Blue Angel's view, filmed from the cockpit of a real flight, but there's no spinning. Sure, there's some jostling in this simulated flight, courtesy of the Navy and local recruiters, but nothing that would throw your lunch.

It's about spreading Navy awareness, said Chief Petty Officer Alton Harris, a recruiter. Usually Harris spends time in classrooms talking to students and showing films. "This is the fun part," he said. "This is a treat."

The mobile Blue Angels flight simulator is one of three making tours to schools and air shows throughout the country. About 550 students at Ridgewood and Mitchell high schools in New Port Richey got to take the flights Thursday and Friday.

The ride was a definite crowd pleaser. It's a great way to spend a really nice day, said Lt. Jim Stauffer, who heads the Navy Junior ROTC program at Ridgewood. "It seats eight. It's a six-minute ride, and it's a flight with the Blue Angels, which is pretty cool."

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