OCEAN CITY — When his red Yak-52 airplane pulls out of a dive and ascends into the sky, aerobatic pilot Marty Sheehan feels G-forces that can make a 150-pound man feel like a 600-pound one.

Basically, the body and blood is heading in one direction, and the plane starts going in another.

“Your body wants to keep going straight, and you’re commanding the airplane to go up,” said Sheehan, 54, who flies for the Raiders Flight Demo Team and flew Sunday afternoon at the annual Ocean City Boardwalk Aerobatic Airshow.

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“You prepare yourself ahead of time. You bear down and tighten up, tighten up your stomach and you tighten your leg muscles. … You get that blood back into your head, your brains, your eyes,” said Sheehan, of Mount Laurel, who is an airline pilot and a former U.S. Marine flight instructor.

But the feeling is not like an amusement-park ride, he said.

“It’s not as violent as a roller coaster, where it’s herky jerky. At least the loops we’re doing cover about 1,000 feet of vertical airspace, so it’s a lot more spread out,” he said.

The Sunday airshow brought thousands of spectators to Ocean City’s beaches and Boardwalk between Sixth and 14th streets to watch aerobatic airlines dip and twist and barrel roll, leaving traces of white streams to dissipate in the blue sky.

The Raiders, whose pilots include Tom Reynolds, Morten Stoverud and father-and-son Jeff and Austin Daniel, have flown at airshows from Florida to New York this year. The Ocean City airshow represents the homestretch of their 2013 season, which runs from March through October.

Another draw at the Ocean City airshow this year was Team Aerodynamix, an 11-pilot formation aerobatic airshow team based in North Carolina.

“We’re a civilian team, but we train like a military squadron,” said Kari Morris, of Dahlonega, Ga., spokeswoman for the team.

In Ocean City and at many other airshows across the country this year, the popular military aircraft have been missing because of the federal sequestration that caused military aircraft demonstrations to be grounded this year. Those funding cuts have prompted some airshows to be canceled across the country.

“It didn’t change much for us. We’re a well-known, high-excitement act that draws a lot of people, but it has been a hardship on the industry, and people have had to work hard to regroup,” said Morris, whose Team Aerodynamix had its first show in Ocean City on Sunday.

Contact Brian Ianieri:


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Five years as Ocean County bureau chief, 12 years as regional news editor (not continuous), 10 years as copy editor (also not continuous), all at The Press of Atlantic City.

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