Red Wings' Glendening knocked out by Blue Angels

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Belleville — This is one memory Luke Glendening never will forget.

Glendening took to the skies above Metro Detroit on Wednesday courtesy of the Blue Angels. He was tossed and turned, going through many of the same precision maneuvers the Blue Angels execute during air shows.

And after it was over, Glendening was beaming.

"It was unbelievable," Glendening said of his flight with Capt. Jeff Kuss aboard an F/A-18 Hornet. "You couldn't get the smile off my face up there. Just a special memory I'll have forever."

The Red Wings have been involved with the Blue Angels for several years, with one player taking flight every summer.

Before his turn, Glendening got some advice from Danny DeKeyser, who did it last year.

"I was a little nervous after I talked to Danny," Glendening said. "(But) he gave me a little information (on what to do).

"I was looking forward to it all summer, and it exceeded every expectation I had. (Kuss) put me through some of the paces, probably not what they go through, but we were cruising around and enjoying the view."

The highlight, Glendening said, was near the start when Kuss took the jet — capable of going 1,400 mph — nearly at a 90 degree angle shooting into the sky.

"It's like the Dragster at Cedar Point, times 10," said Glendening, who said he blacked out momentarily. "It's awesome.

"It's surreal, like the best roller coaster you've ever been on."

At points during the flight, the pilot and passenger pull 6-8 times their body weight.

After the flight, Glendening presented Kuss with a Red Wings jersey and cap. Kuss, a Colorado native who is an avid Avalanche fan, gave Glendening a framed Blue Angels picture.

"He did great," Kuss said. "I expected it, him being an NHL athlete of his caliber. We had a great day. I was able to showcase the things the aircraft is capable of. We were able to get on top of the cloud layer here, we were upside down.

"He caught up on some sleep at one point but other than that, he did a great job. We had fun."