Raiders' Jimmy Garoppolo earns call sign 'Jimmy 9Gs' after experience with US Air Force Thunderbirds

There’s nothing quite like seeing a city from above, but Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo got to see his new home of Las Vegas differently than most experience it. 

Partnering with USAA, the official NFL Salute to Service partner, and Team Whistle, Garoppolo got to experience what it’s like to be a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, as he traveled just outside Vegas to Nellis Air Force Base, the home of the Thunderbirds. 

Garoppolo got to learn first-hand the rigorous training these pilots, considered the best of the best in the Air Force, go through on a daily basis.


Jimmy Garoppolo smiles

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo smiles with F-16 fighter jets behind him at Nellis Air Force Base. (Team Whistle/USAA)

“I was pretty beat up the next couple of days after it, but it was definitely worth it,” Garoppolo told Fox News Digital. 

Garoppolo got fitted in a flight suit as well. He looked like he came straight out of “Top Gun,” as he paired the classic aviators with it.


When his training was over, Garoppolo jumped in the cockpit with Maj. Taylor Wight, call sign “Flash,” to fly over Las Vegas and officially join the “9G Club,” as the F-16 fight jet reached up to 1,500 mph. 

“Jimmy G is used to getting hit, but this is a different kind of getting hit,” Maj. Wight said. Driving a car, if you have a lead foot, it may get up to two G’s if you’re just cranking around a corner. Roller coasters, you’ll probably maybe get up to three G’s.

“In the jet today, we can pull up to nine G’s. [It’s] 2.0-mach, so you’re thinking roughly 1,500 mph. …You’re weighing over 2,000 pounds, and you’re trying to breathe through that. It’s going to take a toll and taxing on your body.”

Jimmy Garoppolo speaks at press conference

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo of the Las Vegas Raiders speaks at a news conference after the first practice of the team’s training camp on July 26, 2023, in Henderson, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The video of the experience captured the moment where Garoppolo took on the nine G’s, and though he needed to catch his breath a bit afterward, he loved every second of it. 

“Got a new nickname out of it,” Garoppolo said chuckling, referencing his new “Jimmy 9Gs” call sign that was given to him. “Definitely wasn’t easy going those nine G’s, but it was definitely worth it. Once in a lifetime experience, so had to hit it with my guy ‘Flash.’”

Garoppolo already had ample respect for members of the military, with his grandfather’s service in the Marine Corps playing a large role in that. But, after experiencing the physical and mental limits getting pushed at Nellis Air Force Base, Garoppolo has an even greater appreciation for what they do. 

Jimmy Garoppolo next to fighter jet

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo poses next to F-16 fight jet on Nellis Air Force Base. (Team Whistle/USAA)


“It’s really impressive,” he said. “I mean after, you feel drained. You don’t really want to talk to anyone and these guys have the same energy they had before. So it was really impressive to me. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before.”

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