Flying a fighter jet is one of those things that looks easier than it really is. Because not only do you have to be able to control a machine capable of Mach 1.5 sometimes very close to the ground, you also have to be able to take it. In this case 'it' being a force of up to 9Gs.
Which is also true if you're a passenger, by the way - a position in which photographer Blair Bunting recently found himself.
After an assignment with the USAF Thunderbirds, Bunting was offered the chance to fly with the team and see what it's really like to get up in the air and travel extremely fast.
So what was it like?
"SCARY AS HELL!" he writes on his blog.
"No sooner than I could start my breathing he pulls the jet in a straight vertical climb and we scream away from the Earth. Where I could once see my friends and family cheering on the side of the runway, only a moment later we are punching through the clouds as the world curves. I am speechless, as any words that I could write down would never do the view justice. In short, it epitomizes every essence of the word “beautiful” in its most primitive form. As the pilot pulls jet from vertical to inverted I could breath, but was breatheless."
"Now let me try my best to explain what 9 G’s feels like… Firstly, in no way is it comfortable, not even close. I began to feel my face melting away as the skin in my cheeks pulled down to my mouth. The color from my vision was the next thing to fade away, first the reds, then the greens. Squeezing like hell, I did everything I could to get air into my lungs as the G-suit wrenched it out. With all the color of a 1950′s television set, the next thing I noticed was that waves were starting to develop in my vision and a vignette appeared. All the while I am listening to the pilot’s breathing and trying my hardest to match it.ADVERTISEMENT
"At any point I could relax and immediately be unconscious, only to wake up and wonder where I am, but I had trained too hard to let this happen. Then, just as G’s set had set in, they began to leave and normalcy appeared. However, if I were to relax at that point, the blood would leave my brain too fast and knock me out as well, so I continually squeeze as the G’s lift and my body slowly returns to what sanity it had left."