When I first arrived, the instructor fitted me in a jumper and explained the basics of my parachute. If I wasn’t already nervous, his causal instructions of, “Oh, it’s easy. Just climb out of the plane and throw yourself over” left me wondering, What the heck am I doing here?! I guess my nervous laugh showed my fear because as we discussed the lesson plan, he limited my instruction to the basics (“The advanced maneuvers come later with time.”) The plane, an Extra 300L, is a super lightweight aerobatic plane (1500 lbs / 680 kg with a 300 horsepower engine), and takeoff was nearly instant. Once up in the air, he allowed me fly around, and I was amazed how sensitive the controls are. Light touches move the plane left, right, up, and down. About 7 minutes into the flight, I experienced audio loss in my headset, and there is a few minutes of embarrassing footage of me spacing out and the instructor talking to himself.
Once I fixed the issue, we worked our way up to a cruising altitude of 4000 feet. He guided me through some of the basic maneuvers (aileron roll and loop), and then I repeated on my own. Easy! Perhaps because I ride aggressive roller coasters frequently, I didn’t feel any “butterflies” in my stomach although that didn’t save me from experiencing four times the force of gravity on the loop. I find my face all too hilarious at the bottom!
When the instructor saw that I was enjoying myself maybe too much, he kicked it up a notch and did more intense maneuvers. I was surprised how easy it is to get disoriented since the best point of reference, the horizon, is not always visible and the angle of flight to the sky or ground is not always apparent. The Lomcevak made me dizzy and the last trick, the tail spin, made me queasy. No matter, by then, it was time to land.
Aerobatic flights don’t last too long because the maneuvers are extremely physically and mentally tiring; I felt like I had backpacked all weekend while working through an intense math theory exam. My exhaustion and adrenaline crash hit me hard around the second hour of my drive home, and only the heaviest of 70’s and 80’s metal kept me going. The queasy feeling also settled deep in my stomach and didn’t pass until a few hours later.
Of course as soon as I arrived home, I had to watch my video and laugh through my “Awesome!” and “Woo!” remarks. Watching the video intensified the queasiness in my stomach although I had done these tricks hours earlier with no issue! Overall, though, the experience was fantastic and would highly recommend it to adventurous and interested parties. I will definitely go back! I guess I’m twisted as my instructor would say! :)