Tuesday, September 30, 2008

wings over houston.

All in a day's work, right? I was invited to attend Media Day at Ellington Field this morning to learn more about and meet the people behind the annual airshow Wings Over Houston. As a kid, I went with my family several times to experience the amazing display of WWII fighter planes doing demonstrations right above our heads, feeling the heat from explosions (all part of the show) and watching jets zip back and forth, breaking the sound barrier. Do you know what that feels like? Sounds like? It's incredible!!

Today after the press conference and interviews with a few of the major sponsors and pilots of the show, I was told I was going up and to pick my plane. There was a particular plane that I was immediately drawn to and I stuck with it, even when told that I might prefer this or that other plane.

54-year-old Ed "Echo" Vesely was my pilot, the owner of this fighter plane. The aircraft was the standard fighter plane from the years 1941-to I think 1946 and was in perfect condition. Ed's buddy Bob helped load me into the backseat, strap on my parachute, then belted me in. Ed orders me to "Lean forward." "I can't" I fretted, to which Ed alerts Bob "Lizzy's ready!" (This all made sense why a little later in the flight.)

Ed arranged with all the Torra Torra Torra planes to fly above, under, and around as they flew in their formations. Flying in formation also means they taxi to the runway and take off in formation. As we taxied to the runway behind them, I was already hyperventilating, shreiking, it was such a cool site to see!! "And we haven't even taken off yet!" Ed yelled through my headset.

Oh my gosh to see these planes take off together was mindblowing. We lifted off and the ground beneath me shrunk as the view expanded wide and far. We flew over Clear Lake and Kemah, had a birdseye view of much of the remaining damage caused by Ike. Ed would turn a hard right telling me to look down and the Torra Torra Torra formation would appear, flying so effortlessly beneath us, the city landscape as their backdrop. Are you kidding me? Over and over again, he'd surprise me with a new view of these planes and never was I tired or bored of it. Click here to see video clips!

The other guys headed back and Ed steered the plane towards the water. "Let's have some fun!!" He lefted the nose of the plane towards space and then turned the left wing hard, pointing down towards the water... *insert airplane sounds effects here*... and then we rolled. Literally, he rolled the plane!! And I don't think it was until I was upright again that I realized I'd been screaming the whole time. Ed just chuckled. "Ready for another one?" "Yes!!"

After 4 rolls, we headed back to land. It was such a rush!! I'm so excited for you to check out the annual Wings Over Houston coming up October 25th & 26th... be sure to look for Ed and his fighter plane!


Andrea Himmelsehr said...

ARggggh! How fun! What a neat perk of your job, Liz!

stacey said...

hi. my name is liz and I have the coolest job ever.