Ever wonder what it's like to fly a French fighter jet? We take you on board

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For the first time in 31 years, the Patrouille de France is back in America. 

The acrobatic team of 10 jets roared over Kansas City this week. They made the trip to commemorate the United States' entry into World War I 100 years ago.

"Our visit is an opportunity to say thank you from the French Air Force and the French people," said pilot Major Nicolas Liemont.

The team flies French Alpha Jets that top speeds of 600 miles per hour.

Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Gauthier Dewas invited 41 Action News anchor Mike Marusarz on board his jet painted with the number zero on the tail.

 

"You ready, Mike?"

Seconds after, we soared into the sky. We twisted, turned and cut through clouds. We flipped upside down and sped in a circle sideways pulling 7 G’s.

It was incredible.

Mike in Patrouille De France jet

“Do you want to take the control? Do you want to fly?” Dewas asked.

I gripped the flight stick that turned the jet on a dime. I tapped it and tried to follow the other jet on the flight with us. It was wild. I was essentially flying a French fighter jet over Kansas City. However, at any moment, of course, the pro pilot could snatch back control. He did as we lost the plane ahead of us in the clouds. We caught up in lightning speed.

While the experience was unforgettable for me, it was also special for Dewas.

“Growing up in France I never thought I would be flying my jet over America. It’s pretty special,” he said over the cockpit radio.

When we landed. It took a minute to regain my footing. It became clear just how much training these pilots undergo before they’re certified to fly.

After the team learned about its trip to America, they repainted the tails of their jets, tweaking the French colors of blue, white and red to reflect the red, white and blue of the U.S. flag.

“We love America. We often fight next to your airmen and airwomen in conflicts around the world. It’s an honor to be here,” said Liemont.

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