I traveled to Las Vegas and didn’t gamble one single dollar. Instead, I gambled with my life.
A Hummer pulls up in front of my hotel and drives me to an airplane hanger on the outskirts of the city. Once I check in, I step into my flight suit and zip it up all the way from my crotch up to my neck. Then I flip up the collar because that’s how I roll.
Every stunt pilot has to have a nickname so guess what mine is? PSYCHO.
My flight instructor picks it out, and he gives me me a cool patch that attaches to my flight suit. I guess he thinks that a woman foaming at the mouth to go up in the world’s most advanced aerobatic plane – the Extra 330LC – to do the same stunt moves they do in airshows must be psycho.
So be it because I love my nickname! I’m glad he didn’t nickname me Tinkerbell or Goose. Remember, Goose died in “Top Gun.”
I receive a brief training on what to expect up in the air and an explanation of the types of wild maneuvers and stunt moves I will be doing. The maneuvers have crazy awesome names like hammerhead, barrel roll, and tailslide.
My flight instructor shows video clips taken by a GoPro camera of other crazy people who have gone up in the Extra 330LC before me.
Most of them look like they are on an extreme rollercoaster ride. I see big eyes accompanied by wide-open, screaming mouths. Yep, there is cussing.
I see one guy pass out from pulling too many Gs but he wakes up a few seconds later. Ok, so that could happen to me…
I get really nervous. This is not a flight simulator ride. I’m about to go up in a REAL airplane to do these stunt moves and experience up to eight Gs. Deep breath.
To be honest thought, I’m even more excited than nervous and ready to DO THIS!
I walk out into the hanger and stand by my airplane. It looks like a red hot sports car with wings!
My flight instructor straps a parachute on to my back, and I step up on the wing of the aircraft and drop inside the cockpit. I buckle in, put my headset on, and get ready for the most extreme thrill ride of my life!
We take off and reach speeds of more than 200 miles per hour as we streak across the Nevada desert under clear blue skies.
The view is spectacular! The airplane’s canopy gives me a crystal clear 180 degree view – even when I’m hanging upside down! That’s the first move my flight instructor pulls.
I scream in my headset to let him know how much fun I’m having!
We do loops, rolls and spins and my stomach does the same but I don’t feel sick. I feel awestruck.
We do the hammerhead where the airplane soars upward and then abruptly turns 180 degrees and descends.
I feel gravity pulling me down and my headset slides off, and I have to put it back on.
We do the tailslide where the airplane goes into a straight vertical climb at full power until it loses momentum and its speed reaches zero. When the plane starts falling to the ground backwards – tail down, we go directly into a dive – nose down!
The tailslide is by far my favorite maneuver. One second you’re flying directly up into the sky and the next you’re headed straight into the ground!
I’ll admit, after we finish all of our maneuvers my stomach feels a little queasy. I don’t feel terrible but I’m glad the ride is over. My flight instructor tells me we went up to 5.5 Gs!
I relax and enjoy the return trip of my once-in-a-lifetime experience as we fly low and fast along the desert floor.
The plane lands, and this PSYCHO is glad to be alive and back on solid ground.
In case you want more specifics, I did the Afterburner package with Sky Combat Ace in Las Vegas. My flight experience took about 15-20 minutes. For a little more money, you can fly the airplane yourself with the Top Gun package or execute air-to-air combat tactics with the Sky Combat package.
Since I didn’t buy the GoPro video footage of my experience, this will have to do:
I haven’t done everything, but it’s on my list.