Compliments to the Pilot

I’m in the Las Vegas area this week to spend some quality time with my Extra 300L, which winters at Boulder City, NV (61B).

Yesterday, I helped my friends at The Aerobatic Experience give aerobatic rides to out-of-town visitors (all non-pilots) from the UK. My first passenger (we’ll call him "Dave") enjoyed the loops, rolls, hammerheads, and Cuban 8s over the desert, and he responded enthusiastically each time I asked how he was doing. On to a quick look at Lake Mead and Hoover Dam, always a great finish to a ride.

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Photo by Pat DuLaney

We flew up the river canyon toward the dam, and as the lake came into view, I pulled up and rolled inverted to let Dave enjoy the scene from an unusual perspective. As I rolled us upright and exclaimed, "What an amazing view!" I noticed that Dave was gesturing at his head, and as he turned, his cheeks were puffed out like a chipmunk’s.

At this point, I should mention that the "discomfort sack" I thoughtfully provided before we took off had, during an 8-point roll a few minutes earlier, floated free of Dave’s harness and dropped down in my cockpit, out of my reach. As quickly as I could, I retrieved one of the emergency backup bags that I always store in the tiny glove box in the rear cockpit, and I passed it forward, apparently just in time.

Dave felt better now (folks usually do after using the bag), and we headed back to the airport, nice and easy. Further inquires confirmed that Dave was doing much better.

I flew the pattern and landed. Not my best-ever arrival, but if you threw out the high and low scores and took artistic impression into account, I think even the East German judge would have given it acceptable marks.

Dave, however, passed a different judgment. As we rolled out on the runway, he pulled the bag back up to his face, and, demonstrating that he’d taken full advantage of the buffet at Caesar’s Palace, expelled the rest of his breakfast into the bag.

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