Would you like to fly upside down?
Would you like to fly upside down? Associated Press sports writer John Marshall, in the cockpit left, flies upside-down with Red Bull plane racing pilot Kirby Chambliss near the pilot's home in Eloy, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Would you like to fly upside down?
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Blank stares and belching were the only possibilities when it was over. Any movement, even raising my head to speak, was dangerous.
 
The climbing and diving at 220 mph, slaloming the tips of cactus and mesquite trees, corkscrewing, banking at 6Gs, flying upside down and end-over-end (more on that later) barely lasted five minutes, yet seemed to have the cumulative effect of a month-long flu.
 
So, for an hour after the joyride over Eloy, Arizona, ended, I sat on a folding chair inside Kirby Chambliss' home hangar, feeling as if the blood had drained from my body, my internal organs swapped places, my stomach somehow bloated and twisted in knots at the same time.
 
"I try to give people an experience that they'll remember for the rest of their lives," Chambliss said.
 
Mission accomplished, though with a queasy caveat for me.
 
Chambliss treated it as if we were puttering around in a paddleboat.
 
He's been around planes all his life. His father was a pilot and the two of them built their own plane from scratch when he was 13.
 
At 24, Chambliss became the youngest commercial pilot at Southwest Airlines and had already honed his aerobatic skills by the time he made captain at 28.
 
Practicing three times a day, seven days a week, Chambliss turned himself into a five-time U.S. national aerobatics champion and was one of the founding pilots in the Red Bull Air Races when the series began in 2003. He's still racing in the series.
 
So as our aircraft hurtled end over end like a paper plane with a bent nose, Chambliss spoke with the nonchalance of an airline pilot pointing out the Grand Canyon 37,000 feet below.
 
"We're going to go on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride," he said.
 
Friends asked why I was dumb enough to volunteer for such a crazy ride and I was wondering the same thing after watching Chambliss' plane roar over the house upside down.
 
Death wasn't what had me worried. Chambliss is one of the world's best at contorting airplanes at crazy angles.
 
The concern was for my stomach. Something about intentionally making myself sick didn't, uh, sit well.
 
"Don't worry, you'll be fine," Chambliss said. "We'll go up and do a few things, see how you do."
 
The first thing he did was turn the plane upside down. Not after gaining some altitude but within a second of becoming airborne.
 
Our minds tell us the sky should be up, the ground down. Watching the green-and-brown desert blur over our heads and blue sky float below us (or was it above?) made about as much sense as a flying hippopotamus.
 
From there, we climbed, then dove, at over 200 miles per hour, toward three houses on Chambliss' Flying Crown Ranch. Instead of disintegrating, which seemed to be our certain fate, we started slaloming the houses to mimic what Chambliss does during races.
 
After going inverted again and another slalom round, I felt surprisingly good, so maybe this wouldn't be so bad.
 
Turns out, Chambliss had it on the easy setting, and the spin cycle was about to begin.
 
Rocketing past his house, Chambliss took the plane into a 6G turn, on a 270-degree arc that made me feel like a squished tater tot squeezing through a wormhole.
 
My stomach: "You've got my attention now."
 
I lied and told Chambliss I was doing OK, so he followed with what felt like a diabolical gymnastics combo: Upside-down twist, front flip with a flat spin.
 
My lunch was ready to dismount.
 
"I think I'm done," I said, tapping out after 5 minutes, 5 seconds of flying.
 
"OK, we'll head down," he said, though what he meant was we weren't yet going down to the ground.
 
Because the brakes were hot, we touched down and took off twice so he could fly around to cool them off.
 
"Better than ending up off the end of the runway into the trees," he said, although I wasn't so sure.
 
Thankfully, on the third approach, we landed, but my stomach and head didn't seem to believe it, feeling as if we were still twirling through the sky.
 
Chambliss was right: It was an experience I'll never forget, for reasons good and bad.

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/teen/would-you-fly-upside-down/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is it called a “joyride?”
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (17)
  • Brandon1231-YYCA
    10/27/2015 - 09:19 p.m.

    I think that it is bit weird to have these people do this when they feel like they are going to throw up. I hope that when they are flying upside down, they don't throw up and then crash and die. I also think that 21 practices are a bit too much. If they practice 21 times, that means that they should be a professional after the 21 times then. I hope that they are doing the right thing when they are upside down because when they are upside down, they are risking their lives. If there is a tree or something and they crash, they will die.

  • julianc-bag
    11/02/2015 - 07:24 p.m.

    flying upside down;
    twisting and turning and blah!
    I don't feel so well

  • erine-bag
    11/02/2015 - 08:06 p.m.

    Swirling, twisting, yay.
    Wait a sec, where is the ground?
    Why did I do this?

  • erine-bag
    11/02/2015 - 08:07 p.m.

    It is called a joyride because it is a short ride in any kind of vehicle that is meant to be joyful

  • sierrab-ste
    11/02/2015 - 08:08 p.m.

    I think flying upside down would be cool if it lasted for like 5 seconds at a time. However, if the entire flight was like that I would get sick and probably pass out. If the whole flight was upside down I for sure would never fly again.

  • lucib-bag
    11/04/2015 - 07:19 p.m.

    Flying upside down
    Will flip your stomach around
    But would be real fun!

  • drewe-lam
    11/18/2015 - 02:32 p.m.

    I, honestly, would not want to fly upside down. The roller coasters at Cedar Point are enough for me. At least those won't make me feel sick. I would much rather stick with things that aren't going to scare the pants off me.

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