Getting an Air Show ride-along sounded like fun; then I threw up

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Aerobatic pilots Sean D. Tucker and John Klatt tear up the sky over Dayton on Wednesday

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

I’m not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to get into a plane called the “Screamin’ Sasquatch.”

John Klatt Airshows will perform this weekend at the Vectren Dayton Air Show, and I got a first-hand look at just how wild his performances actually are. The Jack Link’s Screamin’ Sasquatch will join other performers — like the U.S. Air Force F-22A Raptor, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, TORA! TORA! TORA! and Sean D. Tucker — for an action-packed weekend.

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I hopped into the front of a one-of-kind plane, expertly piloted by John Klatt. On the wing of the plane, “Wild Side” is painted boldly in white. I can definitively say I left my “wild side” back on the runway.

The airshow team strapped a parachute on me. With a foot on the wing of the plane, I swing my other leg into the cramped cockpit and slide down into the seat. Next to us, aerobatic pilot Sean D. Tucker, known for his extraordinary stunts, is taking out another reporter in his plane. A bi-plane of photographers comes along with us for the ride.

Now, this isn't my first time getting up in a stunt plane so I really thought I knew what to expect. At previous air shows, I've flown with Cincinnati-based aerobatic team Redline and the GEICO Skytypers flight squadron. I'm practically a pilot myself, right?

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The flight starts out smooth, with Tucker and the other plane of photographers sticking in a tight formation near us. The views are spectacular, and we speed through clouds at a low altitude.

Rather suddenly, I see Tucker’s plane make a dramatic dive toward the ground and then loop back up into a full circle. Over the headsets, I joke to Klatt: “We’re not going to do that, are we?”

“You wouldn’t want to come up all this way without doing some aerobatics?” he said.

We pull out, and the aerobatics begin. Klatt maneuvers the aircraft with ease, running us through massive loops and flipping the aircraft like a toy.

The aircraft rolls over, and we fly upside down. I feel my body come off the seat and my sunglasses fall off. Every time the plane steadies again after a move, I catch my breath and laugh a little bit.

I stopped laughing just as an overwhelming nausea hit me. I’m going to throw up in this tiny plane, I thought to myself. I look down at my phone, and try to focus on something else as I hold back gags. Then, I grab for the little motion sickness bag next to the seat.

“You OK there, buddy?” Klatt said.

No, I thought. “Yeah, I’m good,” I said.

“We’re almost to the ground,” he said.

A few minutes later, we smoothly land at the Dayton airport and I shakily get out of the aircraft and walk over to the airplane hangar. I’m relieved, slightly invigorated and absolutely queasy as I make to the bathroom.

I puked.


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