Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage via GettyImages(NEW YORK) — Good Morning America received unprecedented access to the historic Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, the oldest in the country, celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Correspondent Jesse Palmer, along with our “GMA” television crew, is the first ever inside this national security nerve center, the Air Force surveillance operations where men and women keep watch over extensive drone surveillance of the Middle East every day.
“We’re looking at 560 hours of video, pieces of intelligence information to go to the war fighter, the president,” an officer explained to Palmer while showing him around the base.
After witnessing the critical work being done on the ground, it was time to see what the Air Force can do in the sky. But, first, Palmer had to get proper training.
He geared up to get down to business in true “Top Gun” style with Capt. Michael “Jigga” Watts.
“This is the real thing now,” Palmer said as he sat in the jet before takeoff. “The heart is starting to race.”
Then it was liftoff, where Palmer was taken aback by doing three of the iconic 360-degree aileron rolls in a row, with top speeds of 7.7 Gs.
“That is like being on the craziest roller coaster,” Palmer said.
But once back on the ground, Palmer had a huge “Captain America” superhero surprise for the brave men and women on the base. Anthony Mackie, who plays Falcon in “Captain America: Civil War,” surprised the unsuspecting airmen and airwomen.
The crowd roared, jumping up and down and high-fiving Mackie as he ran down the line where they were standing.
“Airmen and women, yes!” he shouted.
Mackie, a former U.S. Air Force pararescueman himself, wanted to do something special for the Air Force so he joined Palmer at Langley Air Force Base. He, too, has flown in F16s and said it was “the scariest experience of my life.”
“I didn’t fly on the F22 which is by far the more superior plane,” Mackie added, while telling Palmer that he beat his flight’s speed on the F16. “I pulled 10 Gs. I broke the sound barrier.”
Mackie also explained why he is thrilled for fans to see the highly anticipated new “Captain America” film.
“Playing a character that’s an airmen, I think it’s great for people to see the camaraderie, the brotherhood of the U.S. military,” he explained. “When you have a common understanding of the experience and things like that, you appreciate each other.
“If you look at ‘Captain America: Winter Soldier,’ I was an airman in that movie, and then because HYDRA infiltration the S.H.I.E.L.D. I kind of lose my appreciation for government office,” he added. “When in this movie it comes up, do you side with the government or do you side with civil liberties? I side with civil liberties because we don’t know what their hidden agenda is.”
Mackie, 37, also had one more surprise up his sleeve for the men and women on base.
“Being a fellow airmen, you guys are more brave than I am because you’re airmen and women for real. We have a screening for you guys of “Captain America: Civil War” and I’m excited that you guys get to see it.”
They will get to attend a private screening of the film with Mackie today before it hits theaters nationwide Friday.
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