Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Austin Dillon Takes Flight With Thunderbirds

Austin Dillon traded in his driver's fire suit for a Thunderbird pilot's G-suit and felt firsthand what his favorite movie, “Top Gun,” called “the need for speed.”

Dillon, who went up Tuesday on an Air Force F-16 with a Thunderbirds' pilot, races with a “Top Gun“-themed helmet with the word Maverick on it, just like the Tom Cruise character in the movie from 1986 –– four years before he was born.

“Flying upside down was really awesome,” the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion said. “I was kind of comparing things and asking (the pilot) questions on how truthful the movie was. It's cool to go out there and see what it's really like.”

Racing a car, the 22-year-old said, will now feel “slow.” The Thunderbirds are in town to perform a flyover at Daytona International Speedway for Sunday's Daytona 500. Two jets arrived late Monday and the remaining six will arrive Friday. Six of the jets will participate in the flyover.

Dillon, the 2012 Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year, went straight up 11,000 feet after takeoff from Daytona Beach International Airport, then over to Cape Canaveral where he flew upside down, experienced loops and all the aerobatics moves the team does in an air show.(Daytona News-Journal)