It's not often you experience a life-threatening incident at work. But for Brian Udell, that's an everyday occurrence. The Air Force captain was performing a routine combat simulation in the skies of North Carolina before suddenly losing control of his jet. Luckily, he made a series of split-second decisions that saved his life. Brian reached for the eject button just in time to escape a horrifying crash. But seconds later, an entirely separate crisis would rear its ugly head.
"People don't understand what wind does to someone at that speed." These are the words of Captain Brian Udell, a United States Air Force officer. On April 18, 1989, he boarded his jet just like any other day. At the time, he had no idea that it would be unlike any other flight he had ever taken.
Captain Udell was scheduled to do a combat simulation with his partner. The two were assigned to fly two F-15 fighter jets over the Atlantic Ocean. After not much time at all, the two started chasing each other around. Speeds and distance were picking up fast.
The Power of Wind
To give you an idea, imagine being in a car going 60 miles per hour on the highway. Now, imagine how your hand deals with being placed out the window. It would be pushed back, right? Now, how do you think that would differ at 800 miles per hour? For Captain Udell, he didn't have to imagine!
Suddenly, as they were approaching supersonic speeds, Captain Udell realized that the wind beneath his plane was getting more and more powerful. It wouldn't take long before he would lose control completely, and his partner found himself in the same position. What happened next convinced Udell about what had to be done.