It’s a jerky video, but you can hear me panting and groaning, on my back, rolling around. At times I’m even upside down. Passion. At the end, you can clearly see and hear me giggling perversely.
The person I was with wasn’t even a woman.
My favorite radio call in an airplane happens 40 kilometers south of Manila, over the 7-hectare manufacturing plant I used to manage.
“Manila Approach, One-Six-Niner-One entering Tango Four at two thousand five hundred feet, commencing aerobatics!”
I imagine airline pilots squirming in their all-singing, all-dancing push-button cockpits. Wondering if a maniac’s Decathlon is about to kamikaze through all that glass. Airliners inbound to Manila from Kalibo, Caticlan and other points south fly right over the T-4 training area.
I finished Meynard Halili’s basic aerobatic course in 2007, then dizzily went on to take lessons in competitive aerobatics, stringing spins, hammerheads and half-Cuban eights together.
You don’t do this in your typical Airbus flight to Boringville.
Aerobatics are intensely visceral. You flash through your maneuver sequence, flinging the airplane through the air, pretending to be in total control. Actually, you surrender completely to physics.
Not like sex at all. More like gymnastics . . . thousands of feet over the ground.
For this flight in July 2009, Meynard reversed our roles. I briefed him on the maneuvers that I would fly.
The only thing Meynard wrote on the whiteboard during the briefing was this:
A perfect basic loop pulls 4 “G”s at the bottom and 1/2 G at the top. Four Gs crush you with four times the force of gravity (I would weigh nearly, ehem, 360 kilos), due to centrifugal force. Many pilots black out at 6 Gs. The airplane tears itself apart beyond 6 Gs.
Inverted at the top of the loop, your weightless feet float off the rudder pedals and your butt tries to swap places with your head as you push the airplane up to round out the loop.
The whole thing, from 360 kilos to weightless to 360 kilos again, takes about seven seconds.
Meynard wanted me to not just feel the G forces, but to fly by them.
Normally we fly aerobatics for an hour, upside down, rolling inverted, or sweating spins.
On that day, we flew two hours. I stopped only after Meynard backhanded me a compliment.
“Okay you maniac, time to go home.”
“One more half-Cuban, Meynard, I want to perfect this.”
“Tonet, we have been flying aerobatics for TWO hours. If you don’t stop now, you will be cleaning up this rear cockpit after we get down!”
“Oh? OH!” I thought aerobatic instructors had an infinite capacity for Gs.
Meynard acted peculiarly on that flight. He whooped repeatedly in the rear seat, slapped my back after many maneuvers, and sang praises for my flying.
Praises?! Back slaps?! This was very unusual.
Meynard, who like Jonathan Livingston Seagull’s teacher Chang is fiercely obsessive on perfection, also knew when to work on self-esteem instead of technique. My confidence soared.
The video? Here.
Back on the ground, Meynard pointed to the G-meter in the front cockpit. An aerobat’s orgasm meter.
It faithfully recorded a maximum of 4 Gs and a minimum of –1/2 G (middle needle points to 1 G instantaneous, since we are on the ground.
Somewhere up there, among dozens of aerobatic maneuvers, we had flown a perfect loop 🙂
Over a year later, I still remember it as one of the happiest flights I’ve had. I haven’t flown upside down since.
Posted From Manila, September 10, 2010
My 53rd birthday 🙂
Aerobatic and Meynard stories