World-class coach takes to skies with Blue Angels
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jared Mann helps world-renowned athlete and coach Kelly Starrett into the cockpit of the No. 7 Blue Angel jet for Starrett's Key Influencer ride. (ELIZABETH VARIN PHOTO / January 25, 2013)
Starrett, a world-renowned athlete and coach, took to the skies with Blue Angels No. 7 pilot Lt. Ryan Chamberlain as part of the Blue Angels Key Influencer rider program. The program allows a flight to select individuals because of their presence and far-reaching influence with the American public the Blue Angels recruiting message is targeted toward.
Starrett’s work is focused on performance-based physical therapy with an emphasis on returning athletes to elite-level sport and performance. He’s worked with Olympic gold medalists and military personnel. But before he became known for his work in physical therapy, he was a kid who watched “Iron Eagle” and “Top Gun.” He logged probably 1,000 hours in a flight simulator by the age of 7, and remembers visiting his father, a pilot with the U.S. Air Force.
“It’s pretty amazing to come full circle,” he said. “I feel like somehow I’m accomplishing some standing dream that I’m a co-pilot.”
It’s a dream for almost anyone who has seen an air show to go up with the pilots, Starrett said. It’s so much more than a privilege.
What Starrett said he hopes to bring out of the experience is a better sense of how to help those who are flying the jets over and over.
Starrett works to help identify where the human body is being inefficient and make it work better. Athletes and members of the military spend thousands of hours training. For pilots specifically, it may not hurt the first time they hit 8Gs, but by the 90th time, they can feel it throughout their bodies.
“We talk to pilots all the time, whose hands start to go numb, who have chronic back pain,” he said. “We can say, these athletes are at their best near their middle to end of their career, how do we keep these most valuable resources in the field doing the hardest jobs. I hope to find better positions to undo the damage of the necessary compromises.”
Starrett later added he was excited to see what the physical demands are when flying in one of the F/A-18 Hornets. And before he headed off, he made sure to say he wanted to hit as many Gs as he could and get the most out of the experience that he could.
Digital Media News Editor Elizabeth Varin can be reached at email@example.com or 760-337-3441.