‘Maverick or Goose?’: Caroline Kennedy goes supersonic in Australian Super Hornet
Stars and Stripes March 2, 2023
The U.S. ambassador to Australia had a “Top Gun” moment this week, doing acrobatics in a fighter jet over the Australian state of Victoria.
Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy, a World War II veteran who commanded a patrol torpedo boat in the Pacific, strapped into a two-seat Australian air force F/A-18F Super Hornet for Tuesday’s flight.
The jet took off from Avalon, which is hosting the Australian International Airshow, about a 30-minute drive from Melbourne, through Sunday.
The airshow features hundreds of aircraft, including U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor and F-15C Eagle fighters, C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy transports and KC-46 Pegasus and KC-135 Stratotanker refueling aircraft.
Super Hornets starred in the recent blockbuster movie “Top Gun: Maverick,” which was cited by the U.S. Embassy in a tweet sent after the flight.
“The only question is — was Ambassador Kennedy Maverick or Goose?” the tweet asked, referring to Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards’ characters in the original “Top Gun” movie.
Kennedy, 65, wore a pressurized “G-suit” that keeps aircrew from blacking out from the forces they encounter during acrobatics, according to Australian fighter pilot Flt. Lt. Matthew “Bleachie” Bleach, 33, who flew Kennedy in his Super Hornet.
Appointed U.S. ambassador to Australia by President Joe Biden, Kennedy took up her post in July. She previously served as ambassador to Japan, appointed by President Barack Obama, from 2013 to 2017.
During the flight, the pair followed Victoria’s Great Ocean Road and passed near a group of famous limestone pillars known as the 12 Apostles, Bleach told Stars and Stripes by phone Thursday.
They made acceleration runs, going 900 mph, faster than the speed of sound, he said.
The pair flew as low as 250 feet off the Australian coast before heading inland to some restricted airspace to perform the sort of acrobatics that happen in dogfights, such as loops and barrel rolls.
Kennedy was issued an airsickness bag but didn’t use it, Bleach said.
“She really did a good job,” he said. “I’ve taken young 22-year-old guys (on passenger flights in the Super Hornet) and they have been spewing up.”