Dale had talked about going on an aerobatic flight for a very long time. One day last winter Groupon offered a great deal for a trick flight with Gauntlet Warbirds, located in Aurora, Illinois. Dale told me about it and I bought it for him for his birthday in June. The flight had to be rescheduled several times due to weather in the spring and he didn’t end up getting to take the flight until August! And I had to learn to edit video in order to create this post! So, yay for new skills.

Anyway, he ended up on an Extra 300, one of the most maneuverable civilian aircraft in the world.

He was geeked, obviously. He had to gear up and wear a flight suit!

His co-pilot took him out onto the tarmac to greet the Extra 300. Dale’s carrying a parachute on his back.

There she is! In all her terrifying glory. I was pretty much crapping myself and secretly glad that the flight and tricks would be too far away for me to see it happening.

Dale, cinching his bits in place. He had to be strapped into the cockpit.

Who is that? Why it’s the World War II flying ace The Red Baron!
Dale gets a final debriefing before the flight…

Anybody else singing “Highway to the Danger Zone” yet? Because I totally am.

Here’s a quick video I took of Dale’s flight taking off–with some smudge of something on my lens. Oops. I was pretty much crapping myself at this point. Then I went to Starbucks and Dale did this…

This is a 14-minute version of Dale’s flight. I know that’s long but it’s my first attempt at editing a video–and it was really flippin’ hard because I don’t have a Mac, ok?

It was a 30-minute flight. This is the take-off and the bulk of the tricks. I put little title cards in to let you know what’s going on (it’s like a silent movie). If you want to skip right to the tricks go in about 3 minutes!

To give you an idea how insane this whole thing is: at 1:30 in the video the pilot asks Dale if he’d like to take the controls–they let you drive the plane with no lessons! How insane is that? And Dale took the controls and did a roll! Craziness. There are a few tricks after that point that pretty much make me want to toss my cookies. But as we learned in the video I posted from Yellowstone? I pretty much always want to toss my cookies when it motion.

Dale says that he had a lot of fun on the flight and he would love to go on another one–and if anybody out there is looking to buy Dale the perfect Christmas present he says he’d happily accept the responsibility of an Extra 300 of his own.