Wednesday, April 27, 2005

More fun being high...

Neil, over at Air Trails, commented on a post the other day about close calls in the air. Well Neil, here's another one for you...

When we couldn't get our hands on a helicopter to go up, due to budget restraints or scheduling, we resorted to the agency's plane.

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This was our fallback option because it was MUCH harder to get a decent photograph of a project if you didn't have the option to stop and hover. In fact is was quite difficult. Getting a good picture in this plane essentially required three people. 1) The pilot must bank the aircraft so that you are almost completely sideways. 2) The rear seat passenger must lean forward (while banked) and hold open the flip-up window, and 3) the co-pilot (me) must lean out into the wind, looking straight down, and attempt to get a steady shot.

Kind of like this:

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We take off from the Civil Air Terminal at Dover Air Force Base, and try not to get in the way of the big boys defending our country.

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During these little excursions, we'd often times stop for lunch at the Georgetown Airport. They have a nice little restaurant inside.
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One fateful day, we stopped in and I was really starving. So I, in all my glory, decided that I was going to have a NICE GREASY CHEESESTEAK. MMmm. It was delicious. We finished up and headed back out to the plane. Up we went and resumed our picture taking missions. We shot the final project area and headed home. Now those of you that know Delaware, know that the state is something around 30 miles wide at it's widest point, and around 90 miles from top to bottom. So needless to say, in the air, that's nothing.

As we flew towards DAFB, I began to fell a little uneasy. That wonderful cheesesteak wasn't agreeing with my current altitude. So I really wasn't concerned too much with anything else rather than keeping it together.

About 5 miles out, the guy in the back says "Hey look at that!"
I looked out the window to see an amazing crop formation in a farmer's field. The pilot says "oh wow. Hang on, I'll circle back around so that we can get a few pictures" and banks the plane HARD.


Trying to cover up my discomfort as much as possible, I get ready to take a few last shots. The plane was tilted, the window was open and all it took was the motion of the plane circling to experience "The Cheesesteak: Part Two".

I grabbed the nearest cheesesteak recycling container I could find, which happened to be a plastic bag on the floor, and made a donation. Here's the fun part. In a plane you're all wearing headsets with little microphones that swing around close to your mouth. Well, I forgot about that. So everyone in the plane got to hear me vomit through the microphone headset. Clean up was fun, let me tell you.

But, to show you how much of a trooper I am, during all that, I managed to snap this picture which you may remember seeing in the Delaware State News on September 10, 2002 as a tribute to 9/11:
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As we landed at DAFB we almost collided with an incoming C5, but I'll save that story for a rainy day...