August 14, 2008
The 2008 Chicago Air & Water Show roared into town today. Military and civilian aircraft from all over the country began arriving this morning at the Gary International Airport where most of them will be based throughout the airshow.
Today at the airshow media day I had the opportunity to take a sneak peek at many of the acts, speak with some of the pilots, go for some rides and best of all fly the T-6 Texan! As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, one of the acts I am most excited about this year is Bill Leff's Night Airshow. His T-6 Texan is specially equipped with pyrotechnics so he can put on a thrilling unique night time airshow experience. In meeting Bill I learned that he is from Dayton, Ohio. I shared with him that I learned to fly in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas. After learning I was a pilot, Bill offered to let me fly the T-6 Texan when we went for a flight.
I had flown in a T-6 with the AeroShell team previously, though since they fly in tight formations there was no opportunity for me to fly. Shortly after getting airborne Bill told me the plane was mine. I flew us out to the practice area and performed a few turns and climbs. Once at the practice area he took over the aircraft to perform some aerobatics. We flew a variety of maneuvers but my favorites were the barrel roll and the loop. I love the power of the T-6! On the way back to Gary he gave me the plane back and had me fly us back until we were on short final where he took over the plane for landing. I had a great time talking to Bill and flying with him and am really looking forward to watching him perform on Friday night. If you are in the Chicago Area stop by the lakefront tomorrow night to see him perform.
As we parked the plane the Lima Lima Flight Team returned from a press flight. Sitting in the back seat of the lead plane was Florence Henderson (AKA Carol Brady from the Brady Bunch). Henderson will be singing the national anthem each day of the airshow. She was kind enough to take a photo with me (Available in slideshow below).
While standing there I learned there was a spare seat in one of Lima Lima's T-34s for their next sortie, so I jumped on that. Rick "Knuckles" Nichols took great care of me and gave a very enjoyable flight. We were in the seventh plane in an eight plane formation. During they show they will perform as a six-plane team, Nichols will serve as the team announcer during the show. Be sure not to miss Lima Lima's performances this weekend.
Throughout the day the Blue Angels were coming and going to do spot checks and practice flights over Chicago. I did not get to see a preview of their Chicago Show but did enjoy seeing a few maneuvers back at Gary. I guess it gives me something to look forward to during the next few days.
August 31, 2006
I have had some great aviation experiences over the past few weeks. I recently had the opportunity to fly with the AeroShell Aerobatic Team as they prepared for the 2006 Chicago Air & Water Show. The four plane team performs in their T-6 Texans, a plane used by the military to train pilots for World War II. The T-6 is a powerful single prop plane capable of inverted flight.
We took off in formation and flew out over Lake Michigan where we flew loops and barrelrolls. It was quite an experience flying inverted and flying a loop and I loved every minute of it. This was my second opportunity to fly with a performance team. Last year I flew in the backseat of of T-34, a plane used by the Lima Lima Flight Team. I uploaded some photos and video from the flight and from my time at the Press Day for the Airshow.
Just days after my experience with Aeroshell I was in beautiful Sedona, Arizona for vacation. While there, my wife and I visited one of the most picturesque airports in america, Sedona Airport (KSEZ). While there we could not pass up an opportunity to take in a flight in a Waco bi-plane and seeing the beauty of the Red Rocks of Sedona from above. This was the first time my wife or I had flown in a bi-plane. Like my flight experience with Aeroshell it was excellent. I have always enjoyed flying my Cessna with the windows open but flying in an open cockpit plane is a wonderful thrill.
With some of my aviation rides out of the way it is time for me to get back into the cockpit. This weekend I am scheduled for my first biennial flight review. During the biennial flight review I will undergo an hour of ground instruction followed by an hour of flight time in which I need to prove to a certified flight instructor that I still have the knowledge and skills to serve as pilot in command. It is an FAA Requirement that must be fulfilled every two years in order to continue to act as pilot in command of an aircraft.