Friday, October 10, 2014

Driving, Flying and Punching Fear in the Face... Again!

The Great Georgia Air Show is back again and again, I was invited by my friends at Lexus to get a sneak peek of the fabulous aircrafts and attractions this weekend will have in store.

Last year, you may remember that I was randomly chosen to take a ride in a World War II fighter plane.  This year, there was no random selection... I volunteered.

And it wasn't a fighter plane.

This time I decided to take a ride in a war helicopter... a HU1E flown in Vietnam and Desert Storm.
If you've seen any war movie like Apocalypse Now or Platoon or even Tropic Thunder, you've seen this type of aircraft...
It's the chopper that you often see the soldiers shooting out of...
You know... the ones with no doors!
(well, there are doors... they just don't ever close them... ever.)

So I (along with a crew of other seemingly fearless journalists) jump up and down going "ME ME ME" when Eddie, our veteran pilot asks "Who's ready to ride in the Huey?"

Never mind the fact that one of my fellow journalists who took this ride last year regaled us with his version of the adventure riddled with phrases like "There's nothing but a little mesh seat and a 50 year-old canvas strap to hold you in! HELL NO! I'm NEVER getting on that thing EVER again!" 

I happily marched toward that chopper like it was nothing but a harmless carnival carousel... Instagramming pictures with happy little captions about going to ride in the sky with no doors... la di da di da...
Gunner Seats
I had not a care in the world sliding into the "gunner's seat" (little mesh seat) and getting hooked into my seatbelt (50 year old canvas strap).
I didn't even text my mom and kids like I did before the WWII plane ride when I was positive I was going to meet my maker.
My only thought was... How cool is this?  A side view!

I must have been having an outer body experience...
Clearly, I was not my usual scared-shitless self.
My usual scared-shitless self would have been back in the hangar eating lunch with the other normal scared-shitless people.

The engine roars, the propeller begins to slice the air with that familiar thwacking, and the aircraft levitates from the ground slowly.
#NoDoors = #NoFilter and #NoZoom
My gunner seat-mate and I are giggling like pig-tailed school girls (except for him being a guy) snapping photos and waving to those we left behind.

The wind picks up with the speed and altitude and my first instinct is to hold on to something...
Except there isn't anything to hold on to.
Like... nothing!
Well maybe the person I'm sitting next to... but
#1 - I don't know him like that and
#2 - He doesn't have anything to hold on to either!

Higher and faster we go... flying over the beautiful golf course peppered landscape of Peachtree City.
With a kung-fu-vice-grip on my phone, I do the best I can to take as many photos of the breathtaking scenery as I can while my adorable gunner seat-mate FaceTimes his mom!
^^ Those are my knees!  See... NO DOORS!

It was all fun and games... until...
Hard.  Bank.  Left.
What does hard bank left mean?
It means that I am now nearly parallel to the ground in a helicopter with no effin' doors, devoid of "oh shit" bars, and only a 50 year old canvas strap keeping me from certain death...
This is exactly the point where my usual scared-shitless self returned...
And the screaming began.

I wasn't alone.
The only people not screaming were the pilots.
And they continued left banking... right banking... going up... diving down... solely for their amusement and our terror-slash-excitement.
Truth be told... I went back and forth between complete fright and complete exhilaration.

Safely back on the ground, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I just had one of the most amazing experiences of my life!
More than the chopper ride, it was that I entered into it with no fear... ZERO!
For me, that is unheard of!
I mean... my 10 year-old daughter couldn't even believe that I did it!
I could not be more prouder of myself!
(and I do not care if that sentence is or is not grammatically correct)

Now, if only I could approach more of my less life-threatening situations this way, right?

If you are in the Atlanta area this weekend, you too can experience the helicopter ride of a lifetime at The Great Georgia Air Show.  October 11 and 12 at Falcon Field.  A great time for the whole family!  Check it out!