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Real-life Maverick: What it's like being a fighter jet pilot


The Abbotsford International Airshow will take flight this weekend, with pilots showcasing a series of twists and turns that would make most people's stomachs flip.

But it's just a part of everyday life for F-35 fighter jet test pilot Andrew "Bundy" Soundy, who got his start in the thrilling career in B.C.

Soundy sat down with CTV Morning Live Thursday, to discuss career highs and what it's like to be behind the controls of the world's most advanced fighter jet.

Jason Pires: It's the world's most advanced fighter jet and you've flown it. What's that like?

Andrew "Bundy" Soundy: It's an amazing airplane. I've been flying it for about eight years now. I have almost 800 hours flying the airplane. It's a powerful machine and is designed really well. Excellent capabilities. And I'm just blessed every day to get to work in an environment flying an airplane like that.

Keri Adams: What makes it different than other fighter jets?

Soundy: Airplanes have gone through an evolution right from gen one through gen five, which is where we're at right now. So the F-35 is a fifth gen fighter and the F-18 is a fourth gen fighter in comparison. So stealth and the sensors and the capabilities to the airplane are the big things that the F-35 brings to the table.

Pires: How fast does it go?

Soundy: So 700 knots is the top speed. In kilometers per hour, it's just a little bit shy of 1,300 km/h.

Adams: What is your body physically doing at that speed?

Soundy: When you're turning it, if you need to go up to nine Gs. Basically what that means is your body weighs nine times what it weighs right now – for me, that's about 1,600 pounds – is what you weigh physically in the cockpit. So you're flying the airplane and enduring that as well. It's very physical.

Pires: Let's talk about "Top Gun: Maverick." Is the movie an accurate portrayal?

Soundy: So I have to confess I have not seen the movie but I get to do that every day. So it's not a high priority for me right now.

Pires: What's the camaraderie like amongst the pilots of your level?

Soundy: We are very close bunch for sure. You know, what we do every day…our lives depend on each other for stuff that we do, so trust is hugely important. We are very close group, we do a lot of stuff in that regard. So that part of it is definitely true and I think that's been one big attraction to me in the job for years.

Adams: You are based south of the border, but you got your start in B.C. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Soundy: I was born in the U.K., but we immigrated to Canada in '82 when I was 16. I joined the Canadian Forces. I served in the Canadian military for my entire career. So I went to Royal Roads on Vancouver Island when it was still a military college, graduated from RMC, flew the CF-18 for my career and then on loan to the States a lot…I started flying the F-35 shortly after that.

Pires: For young people that want to get into the field, what's your advice?

Soundy: Stay out of trouble first and foremost, work hard, and you never know where life is going to take you. You really just have to keep your nose to the grindstone. Stay focused on what you want to do and life will present opportunities.

The F-35 fighter jet will be on display at the Abbotsford International Airshow Friday through Sunday. Soundy says he's looking forward to speaking to lots of aspiring F-35 pilots throughout the weekend. Top Stories


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