For my fortieth birthday, my wife and some of our friends treated me to one of the plane rides that were given behind the 57th Fighter Group restaurant at DeKalb-Peachtree Airpor. They have two aircraft, a Stearman biplane and a AT-6 "Texan" that was used as an advanced trainer during World War II. The biplane ride was longer, but I couldn't resist the 20-minute flight in the Texan.
On the day of the ride, we arrived at the restaurant and went to the back where the planes were tied down. There was a short safety briefing where I was asked if I had ever been upside down in an airplane and was told that the ride was like going in a roller coaster, only at 300 mph. I heard a "barf ride!" from behind me. They also explained about wearing a parachute and emergency procedures.
We then strapped in and cranked up the 600 horsepower radial and taxied out. I was buzzed. During the brief wait for our turn to take off, the pilot ran up the engine to check the magnetos and explained that as soon as we got out of the airport area and on our way toward Stone Mountain, I'd get a chance to fly the plane. I was really buzzed as we started the takeoff roll. The "magic" moment where the plane started flying came up quickly, and then we were off and turning east.
On the way out the pilot chatted with me about what sort of maneuvers we were going to do and what we couldn't do since we were over populated land. The longer flight they offered went out over Lake Lanier and they did loops and other vertical maneuvers. Once we were at altitude, the pilot had me take the stick and rudder pedals, and said, "You have the airplane." I was able to maintain altitude and heading pretty well and all too soon, we were over Stone Mountain Park and the pilot took the plane back.
We then did barrel and slow rolls (snap rolls are prohibited in the AT-6) as well as wingovers. We then turned back to the airport aand I was given control of the airplane again. On the way back, I got to turn the airplane to port and starboard as well as go into a shallow dive and pull up into a climb.
As we approached the airport, the pilot then took control for landing. We entered the pattern with a snappy break, lowered the landing gear, and settled down for a smooth three-point landing. As we were rolling out I had the only queasy moment of the whole flight, but held it down as we taxied back. I came back with all my barf bags unused. Wanna go again!
(Note from the Official Photographer: Please excuse the dark right side of some of the photos. The shutter on my camera was not working properly at speeds over 500. Also, I was working without a light meter that day; I was surprised at how well they came out despite that! . . . . Linda)
This is the AT-6 "Texan" at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport.
Entering the aircraft via the wing.
James settles into his seat.
Getting flying instructions.
Now in headphones, the pilot heads out.
Last check before takeoff.
Texan heading for the runway.
On the runway and ready for flight.
The "magic" moment, when the plane lifts from the ground.
And off toward Stone Mountain.
Having landed, the Texan rolls back to its berth near the Stearman.
The Texan taxis past the Stearman.