Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ride with caution -- updated

Editor's Note: The previous post on "Ride with caution" was removed. Apologies for being crass. It was the big story of the day, however...

So, Amy and Al, here's a little story about the ride:

I love amusement park rides. I like rollercoasters -- the higher and faster, the better -- despite the fact that I have motion sickness.
The best thing I ever did was ride an F-16 for an hour for a story I wrote.
It was the 25th anniversary of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, which is built at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth
I used to edit the business writer who covered the plant. At a planning meeting one day, he mentioned that we should do something on the anniversary. We were in a room full of other editors. It was then that I made the statement.
"I'd give anything to take a ride on one."
"Really," the reporter said. Absolutely, I said, without really thinking that he could make it happen.
A few days later, he was at my desk. "Guess what?"
He said they offered -- and he couldn't do it because of his back.
They were serious, he said, and brought our department editor in the mix.
Everyone agreed, so a few weeks later, I took the ride of a lifetime.
I spent the entire morning that day, getting checked -- a physical. Eye test, blood pressure, hearing, lung capacity.
I told the doctor three times that I get motion sick, and he gave me some pill and said it is better than anything out there.
After I was fitted for a pressurized flight suit, I sat in a room while the captain/pilot instructed me using little models on what to do inside the plane. Simple, really, since I'd be sitting behind him while he flew.

"Whatever you do, don't pull this lever. It's the ejection lever."
Thanks. I won't be able to keep my eyes off of it now.
He showed me on the map where we'd be going. "Ever been to West Texas? We can get there in just a few minutes."
Once I had my parachute fitted and attached to my body, we circled the plane to do checks. We climbed aboard and were off.
Plane shoots straight up in the air. Clouds coming toward us faster than anything I could have ever imagined. Suit tightens around my mid-section like someone is squeezing me.
"Feel that? That's about three Gs. We can do nine," he said, "But you'd probably pass out."
I couldn't speak because I was squeezed, and about to get sick.
They had told me not to get sick in the plane, it cost $25 million.
"If you feel sick, just take the oxygen mask off and do it in the suit."
Easy for you to say, I thought.
I threw up three times.
We did a loop, pulled nine Gs (three at a time), and I got to fly the plane a bit.
We also flew in formation with a few other jets.
It was a beautiful spring day in Texas, we saw a good part of the state on our ride.
When it was over, they poured a bucket of water over me when I got off the plane. This was needed because I'm sure I didn't smell very good. And I got a little model of the plane I flew in, with my name painted on the side, behind the captain's.
I was too busy to notice there was video shot of this experience, and lots of pictures, too.
All in an hour that I will never forget.


Photo from:


motownrunnergirl said...

this is horrible

Andrew Isaac said...

awful story

Al Durham said...

I have always feared gettign hurt or injured on a roller coaster. They are so much fun though! You got to ride in an F16? I am very jealous!

Amy said...

First off, this is the very reason why I hate rides. I don't do rides or heights. And did you actually say "sorry about your feet dude.."?? Ugh. And I just have to ask, were you puking all over yourself for an hour?? I do not think I could have enjoyed that.

motownrunnergirl said...

dude you need to take this page down. i haven't been able to stop thinking about this all day. the image is just seared/seered(?) in my brain and i want to get it out. i hate rides. never liked them. this is awful. horrible. just horrible.

Amy said...

I knew you didn't mean it to sound crass. Everyone has been talking about it b/c it is disturbing and involves something people love to do.

As for you F-16 experience, very brave. I would have been out when they mentioned I was to throw up in my suit. Plus, I hate heights and also get motion sick. I am trying very hard to figure out how you enjoyed this. Smile

Sarah said...

...and somewhere in the house is an audio tape of you hurling.

Amy said...

And I know where there are people who would like to see the audiotape........

motownrunnergirl said...

omg, you took the page down!! sorry dawg, didn't mean to make you censor yourself. maybe you can say a little something about it (not descriptive tho. yuck) so others might know what we're talking about. omg, i'm meddling. i've become a blogger/meddler.

Amy said...

yeah me too. i guess the appropriateness depends whether you write for your readers or yourself or both