so.much.fun.

This has been a great year with plenty of adventures but I just got to add one more to the list.

Hanging out at Cape Cod all summer long doesn’t just mean seafood galore (as you can see from my recent recipe blog posts); last week it was also just a short flight to Minneapolis to attend an event I had on my radar for a couple of years: the Thomson Reuters Team Oracle Flight Day! (When I first got invited by Rick I was even still a TR employee….nowadays: “work, what’s that”?!)

The annual event is now in its 5th year, and it takes place at the Eden Prairie Flying Cloud Airport. The main man on the Oracle team is just about the best stunt flyer in the world – Sean D. Tucker – and I was signed up to fly aerobatics with him. People who know me know that I looooooove rollercoasters and don’t know what motion sickness feels like, but I had never before been in a small plane and had never worn a parachute, so this was going to be interesting….

Monica Miller Team Oracle  (63)
Sean D. Tucker: what an enthusiastic guy – smiling, fist bumping, taking photos, telling great stories

 

Due to a thunderstorm the night before, early morning starts were delayed. Thus we had plenty of time to chat with the other “passengers,” as well as the photographers that would go up in the media plane and the pilots of the three stunt planes and three WWII-era T-6 trainer planes. Slightly more risk-averse people could go up in these old army planes, thrills were still guaranteed as they would go formation flying. Michael’s highlight (besides my being so thrilled, he says) was to meet 6-time astronaut Curt Brown, who flies one of the T-6s.  His day gig is as a pilot for Sun Country Airlines, the airline we had used to come to Minneapolis. We got to chat with him a bit about our Pan-American adventure, but I would say he probably had the more adventurous stories to tell….!

Monica Miller Team Oracle  (39)

With perfect weather conditions the first flights started. The aerobatics and the formation planes would go up intermittently and every now and then they would be accompanied at the beginning of the flight by the media plane from which a couple of photographers were shooting action shots. By chance during one flight the passenger seat of the media plane was not taken and, as I still had some time to kill until my stunt flight, I got to go with them.

My first time in a small airplane – and it was so much smoother, calmer and quieter than I had expected. So far so good, no need to be afraid of going up in a small plane at stunt-flying time.  Aaaah, and seeing that wide Minnesota landscape again, this time in green and not covered by snow…..no, we still will not move there!

And then the main flight! After getting strapped into a parachute and an explanation of the emergency procedure (sure, yikes…lose the plane roof by pulling those levers and get out of the seat by pulling those buckles and for the parachute just pull the strap straight…sure, yikes) we followed the media plane up. After some smoke trails, thumbs up and waving for the cameras we did a first roll and then a 20 second (I kid you not) upside down flight. I even managed to get one of my hands off the inner frame for a thumbs up. Thank you so much to Emmanuel, Adam, Monica and Craig for capturing these moments.

1

Once the media plane was gone we got onto the real stuff! I had told Sean before the flight not to go easy on me and he didn’t hold back: left and right rolls, forwards and backwards loops, hammerheads and an inverted flat spin. Boy, was that fun – on the cockpit video that was rolling for the entire flight you can just see me laughing and giggling the whole time….

…until he told me: “okay, now it’s your turn; look at my hands, they are up in the air and you are controlling the plane” (there are controls in the back and the front, both a manual stick as well as foot pedals). The expression on my face changed to very concentrated and serious while he talks my through flying side rolls and loops myself – can’t believe I did that!

I was kind of relieved when he took the control back and did some more maneuvers! Before heading back to the airport he obliged my shouting “more, more, more” and finished the session with a 7-times-ultra-fast-barrel-roll.

Back on the ground I was still buzzing full of adrenaline and endorphins. I guess these pictures speak for themselves, also on the part of how Michael felt having me back safe and sound.

2

And here’s the proof for the 6G and negative 2.1 G we did during the flight. I admit that my stomach did feel a bit queasy after the flight but I would go again in a heartbeat.

14  11 Adam Lockhart 0100

Thanks Sean for the great time, call me again if you need a co-pilot! And thanks Rick for inviting me and making it happen!

Feel free to visit the website of the TR Photoclub for all pictures on taken on the day and to find out more about these talented photographers!

 

 

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