Region 10 Teacher Flying High!
Reprinted with permission from The Times Record
R10 teacher goes airborne with Angel
BY DARCIE MOORE
Times Record Staff
U.S. NAVY BLUE ANGELS PHOTO
Two local coaches got the thrill of a lifetime last week when they took to the skies with the Navy’s Blue Angels air demonstration squad.
Two years ago, Phippsburg native Jason Darling, a teacher and football coach, was the alternate for a chance to go up with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels while they were at Brunswick Landing for the Great State of Maine Air Show. This year, he got to fly.
Nominated by the administration of Region Ten Technical High School where he teaches English and pre-apprenticeship, Darling is also in his eighth season as the head football coach at Morse High School. He was chosen as one of two “key influencers” from the Midcoast community chosen to fly with Lt. Brandon Hempler ahead of the Great State of Maine Air Show.
The other community member chosen happened to be his friend and assistant football coach Jeff DeRosa, who is also a special education teacher at Morse.
“I was so nervous, I didn’t know what to expect,” Darling remembers.
The F/A-18 jets used by the Angels can reach speeds just under Mach 2 and almost twice the speed of sound — about 1,400 mph.
“It was definitely a new feeling, the g-force pushing you down into the seat and crumpling you,” Darling recalled.
No matter how he was feeling, he’d told himself he wouldn’t ask to end the flight early.
“I remember the pilot was great about kind of leading you into what he was going to do with you and he said on the takeoff we were going to do a steep ascent and when you do, I want you to turn and look at the ground to see how quick we’re getting away from the ground.”
Yet the force of the takeoff makes it hard to move your head where you’d like to.
He experienced the g-force but also being inverted and breaking the sound barrier.
And the view?
“Oh it’s unbelievable. We went sightseeing, over the top of Saddle Back Mountain and down to Webb Lake,” Darling said. The pilot found out Darling was from the Bath area so they flew over Bath Iron Works and then he got a bird’s eye view of the Morse football field.
“It was breathtaking,” he said.
His favorite part about this once-in-a lifetime experience?
“Just being able to share it with all those people and to have that honor bestowed upon you,” Darling said. “For those guys, it’s just another day on the job and for me, it’s just one of those greatest experiences that I’ll never ever forget and I’m just so thankful to those guys for doing stuff like that is because it really is just an incredible honor to experience that.”
Despite being in the middle of the busy football pre-season, Darling and DeRosa managed to get a bus and take their football players to Brunswick Landing Wednesday, allowing the teammates to see both of their coaches take the ride of a lifetime.
“I think the Navy just got 15 kids enlisted right there,” Darling joked Friday.
His pilot, Hempler, was a phenomenal human being, Darling said.
As they were approaching the landing, “he’s saying what an incredible honor it is to take you up today and I have so much respect for you working with the kids,” Darling said. “I’m like, ‘He’s a hero. It’s an honor to fly with me?’ Just incredible.”