Saturday, November 27, 2010

Oh my GOD!!

Hi Everyone Let's see, where to begin. The rest of the trip wasn't too bad. The roads opened at 10:00 but were pretty crappy with blowing and drifting snow most of the way to Salt Lake City but by then it was mostly clear sailing. We stopped for a brief visit to see my niece Arleen and then continued to St George Utah. On Thursday it was clear skies, warm temperatures and an uneventful drive to Phoenix. But.....today was the incredible part. Rosi gave me a gift for my 50th that was amazing! I received a four-hour fighter combat experience at Fighter Combat International in Mesa. I showed up at 11:15 and had ground school and a briefing that lasted about 90 minutes. After that I rode with an instructor pilot in a high performance aerobatic plane that's capable of 10G. It's basically one of the best aerobatic planes built and other than speed, is capable of maneuvers only a jet fighter could do. The pilot takes off and lands, and goes through a demo of each maneuver, but after that I was able to actually take the "stick" and fly! I flew three combat missions against another pilot, complete with simulated machine guns and smoke, and I flew several acrobatic maneuvers on my own: a full loop, the Cuban roll and a hammerhead stall. The whole experience was amazing! And more than a little frightening - and yes, at one point I got sick. You try pulling 4.2G inverted in a plane not much bigger than a Honda Civic and tell me you don't get scared - or sick. Anyway, it's now just a great memory - plus a plaque, a ball cap and my own leather call sign off of my flight suit..... Tomorrow we're only driving as far as Nogales and then on Monday we cross into Mexico for the last few days of the trip. Adios Mi Amigos!
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