Fly in a T6 Warbird was listed on my 2016 bucket list. I found it on Cloud 9 Living when I was searching their sight for inspiration. I didn’t even know what a T6 Warbird looked like or what it was used for; I mean, besides the obvious thought of war. The description on Cloud 9 Living said, “Feel the G forces during your Warbird adventure flight as you carve up the sky with some high powered flying.” That was all I needed to add it to my list. Air adventures have been some of my favorite bucket list items. From piloting a helicopter, airplane, glider, parachute, fighter jet, and jetpack to performing aerobatics over the Pacific Ocean in a biplane, the sky is filled with extreme adventures for adrenaline junkies and adventure seekers.
On the day of my flight, I woke up at 7 am filled with anticipation. If my experiences with extreme flights in the past were any indication of how today was going to go, I could have one of the best adventures of my life. The flight was with Aviator Flight Training in Upland, California which is about an hour drive. Even though my flight wasn’t until 1 pm, I couldn’t stand the anticipation and I left by 11 am.
“I feel the need… the need for speed.”
When I arrived at Upland Airport, Daniel, the owner of Aviator Flight Training and my pilot for the afternoon, gave me a flight suit. It was optional but I felt like I needed to go all in.
Then, it was time to get in. Tim, another pilot at Aviator Flight Training, helped me get into the cockpit and strapped me in, including buckling my parachute. As he explained what to do if the plane went down, I listened with complete and utter fear. Would I actually be capable of pulling the handle, opening the hatch, and deploying my parachute in an emergency situation? It all seemed highly unlikely. Would I have time for all of that? That seemed highly unlikely as well. Oh well; I’d go down smiling.
When we took off, it was immediately intense and faster than I anticipated. I quickly snapped a photo with my phone and put it securely in my pocket. The GoPro would need to do the rest of the work. I was going to sit back and enjoy the ride. And scream my head off.
We flew toward the mountains and within minutes we were already doing barrel rolls. I’m glad I have the video footage because I still feel like it was all a dream.
We topped 220 mph and over 4 G’s. We flew through the mountains sideways and upside down. The window was closed but I still felt completely free of obstructions. I could see everything, including the ground which felt extremely close at times. Thankfully, I didn’t feel free of obstructions around my body. I pulled the seat belt tighter and tighter until I could feel it pushing against my collar bone. It wasn’t uncomfortable; instead it made me feel safe. My fear was gone and I was on Cloud 9.
Daniel talked to me the whole time (well, when I wasn’t screaming or laughing) and his calmness was even more reassuring. I was confident in him and asked for more. My cheeks were hurting from smiling and laughing so much. I felt like a little kid on a roller coaster for the first time. All of that childhood joy, excitement, and anticipation was brimming over.
When we landed, I was shaking with adrenaline. I climbed down from the T6 Warbird, I hugged Daniel. He had given me one of the greatest rides of my life and I will forever remember his name and associate it with this adventure. He has the type of career that has a lasting impact on his customers.
Some experiences are so great that they stay with you and ingrain themselves in the deep crevasses of your brain. Clearly from the smile on my face as we hang above the clouds near Mt. Baldy, I am in love with aerobatic flight. There are many things that need to come together nicely to create this experience. With 18 years experience, Daniel was a great fit for my adrenaline-filled adventure. Cloud 9 Living provided the inspiration for the flight and my desire to experience all forms of aviation was the perfect combination to create a lasting memory that can’t be replaced or forgotten.