So you’ve got your license or are a seasoned pilot, and are
wondering; now what?!? Well for those that want to take their flying to
the next level, they come to King City, CA and enroll in the Tutima
Academy of Aviation Safety. Whether it’s just learning how to control
an airplane during an uncontrolled spin or learning precision
acrobatics, people from all over the world come to Tutima. Yesterday, I
was invited by Ben Freelove, Director of Operations for Tutima as well
as an Instructor Pilot, to come fly and experience what a typical day
is like as a student and to get some dynamic shots.
After getting a chance to sit in on a post flight briefing between
Ben and a student enrolled in the Acrobatics course, it was time to
suit up and go flying. With Ben and Mike in the Tutima Extra, I was
going to get a chance to fly with Chief Pilot Ken Erickson. Parachute
on, barf bag in the flight suit, an extra ratchet on the straps to make
sure I don’t flail around the cockpit, and it was time to run up the
engines and take off!
We then executed a number of prebriefed maneuvers. With names like
“Nose in the door”, “Knife Edge Pass”, and “Power Loops, you know it
was going to be an exciting ride. 🙂
And they didn’t disappoint!
And after an intense 30 minutes of flying, it was time to RTB
(Return to Base). “King City Traffic, N771TA, Flight of two Extras,
inbound runway 29 for the right hand break.”
As we approached the numbers, I looked at Ben in the lead aircraft,
just a few feet off our wing, tap his head, and with a quick snap of
the stick, he was gone! A second later Ken quickly rolled the plane 90
degrees to the right, and yanked the stick back! 2G’s, 3G’s, …4G’s,
……5G’s, ………6G’s!!! The blood was rushing from my head to my
feet, and tunnel vision was starting to set in. Everything was starting
to turn black as I was losing my peripheral vision. But then we leveled
out and we were inbound for landing. After a taxi to the fuel pump, the
ride was over.
But that wasn’t the end of flying. I jumped out of the plane (barf
bag still empty), ran into the hanger and swapped to the 10-22mm wide
angle fisheye lens. Then Ken and I got into the Tutima Extra and it was
time for some loops, corkscrews, hammerheads, and inverted flat spins.
Our first maneuver was a vertical snap rolls with the nose pointed
down. I took control of the plane and took us up to 5,000 feet. Then
Ken took the stick and it was time get to work. Pull the nose up
slightly to slow down, then point it straight down and start spinning
to the left. We were going 360 degrees every second! And after 10
spins, we had dropped 1,000 feet in altitude and pulled some serious
G’s and came back to level flight. And then it was time to do it again.
That was just the first of a half dozen maneuvers. The most intense
one was the Inverted Flat Spin. Back up to 5,000 feet, flip inverted,
and induce a spin. We then stall and start a downward corkscrew spiral.
Up was down, brown was blue, and the sun was spinning all around us.
I’m being pushed to to side of the cockpit, and before I know it, we
had a dozen spins and Ken had recovered the plane to straight and level
Then it was time for me to do some flying of my own. Nothing that
complicated, but a few barrel rolls and inverted loops. But it was a
The sun was setting and then it was time to head back. With another
right break to landing, we were back on the ground and another 0.6
hours of flight time for the log book! With my empty bag in hand, I
went straight to the sofa to lay down. 🙂