Skateboarding in the sky…

Do a favor get a surprise in the end.

So I helped an old friend out by shooting a few stories on his wilder youth flying P38s in WWII. For some reason he felt he owed me and today was payback. I got to go up in an airplane!

Now I’ve been up in everything from cargo planes to Hueys to blimps to you name it. Even a hot air balloon. Once spent 26 hours flying home from an overseas assignment and never could convince accounting that I should get OT cause it was all in the same day. They just couldn’t buy a day longer than the standard 24…but I’m meandering again.

I was out at Stockton Metro Airport early today waiting by a back lot security gate when in zoomed a jeep bearing pilot Tom Belisle. And not just a pilot. We were about to go up in his home-built experiment aircraft – an RV-4.

When we took off I felt like I was riding a skateboard. This tight little lady is SMALL. Looking out the cockpit window I was wondering if the wings could actually take us aloft…but with a very powerful 200hp engine we were up up up in minutes. (And I just checked the specs out and yes, each wing is less than 10 feet long.)

Talk about getting to know your pilot intimately. Tom and I were cabin mates in a space barely big enough to stretch out in. He had his space and I tried to stay in mine. Of course I shot some video but that darned cockpit was so small I couldn’t even use my babycam – my HMC150. Had to resort to using a little point and shoot POV Swann.

We took a meander over the San Francisco Bay and the worked our way up over San Quentin and on to Petaluma for lunch at their small airport. There I saw several other home-built aircraft. The obvious question: What’s it like going up for the first time in something you built yourself? The answer: It’s a real “hello Jesus” moment. I can only imagine the faith you have to have in your knowledge and skill to do something like that.

Then it was back to Stockton. A two hour land drive was maybe half an hour, doing land speeds between 178 to 185mph.

And yes we shimmied and shook and talked a lot about this and that. And spent time just enjoying the view.

So I got my day in the air and got to meet a true gentleman who flies with such love that he constantly volunteers to take up newbies like me as well as Wounded Warriors and teens in a local junior pilot’s program. It was an honor to be his guest.


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