I gulp, as I nestle into my seat in the tiny aircraft and furiously pray that I won’t have to use the parachute strapped onto my back during the short flight. FDA regulations, just precautions, he said.
Kerry gets in the plane and gives me the rundown on the controls, headsets and other aviation details. This was my first time flying in a small plane.
The roof of the plane is Plexiglas, so pilots have more visibility while doing loops, rolls and other aerobatic tricks. Some planes even have Plexiglas floors, according to my pilot.
Kerry starts up the motor and we both put our headsets on. We start to taxi. My palms have never been sweatier as a result of nerves and the heat inside the airplane from the engine.
The plane quickly gains speed and we ascend into the clear, blue sky. It’s a beautiful, breezy fall day, and the higher we climb in the air, the cooler it feels in the plane. My nerves calm as I stare down on the little airport we left.
Kerry directs us toward Rockmart, and points out the tiny town, as he informs me we are traveling at a rate of more than 100 miles per hour and 3,000 feet above the ground.
We soar over, under and through the billowy, white pockets of air. “This is what we call cloud-chasing,” Kerry said.
The air boss gently turns the plane around to the left, then to the right, as I watch the ground come up closer to the aircraft.
Then comes the “big” trick, which is actually small for experienced aerobatic pilots, the “aileron roll,” sometimes called a barrel roll.
I brace myself as the plane tilts to the left and keeps going. I look out the Plexiglas roof, first seeing sky, then trees and sky again. And just like that, it’s over, and we’re alive! Just as fast as I lost my stomach, I got it back again.
Now I understand the thrill of acrobatic planes, both viewing and riding.
The ride was spectacular, and just like Kerry told me I would be, I’m now “hooked” on small plane aviation.
If you go:
Paulding "Salute America" Air show
Where: Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport, 730 Airport Parkway, Dallas (about seven miles west of Dallas).
When: Saturday, Oct. 20.
Times: 9 a.m., gates open; 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., performances.
>>3X Helo Demonstration by the
>>F4U Corsair Demonstration by
>>Gary Rower and the Super
>>Indy Boys Extreme Jet Vehicles
>>Misty Blues All Woman
>>Meet a Pilot
>>P-51 Demo by Steve Gustafson
>>Starjammer Aerobatic Act by
>>Team Aeroshell Aerobatics
>>Texan II by Hawker Beech
Information: (770) 505-7700 or visit www.pauldingairshow.net.