Cloud surfing is every bit as cool as it sounds. The aircraft dances and banks to and fro, following your eyes as you look for gaps between puffy white citadels, raging through vaulted corridors and across seemingly-endless snowfields–six or eight miles above the ground. You roll over the top of some formations, carve your way through others, and plunge down along the precipices until you break out at the bottom, only to swing back into the vertical…and do it all again.

If you’re familiar with John Gillespie Magee, Jr.’s poem “High Flight,” cloud-surfing provides the revelation of he was talking about, strung together in such a way that only a fighter pilot (he flew Spitfires) could manage.

A word to the wise, though: if you’re on a VFR flight plan in American airspace, cloud-surfing is big no-no in the eyes of the FAA. But since we’re talking about F/A-18F Super Hornets on deployment, those rules don’t apply. Climb aboard with the Checkmates of VFA-211 and experience cloud-surfing…U.S. Navy style!