Broaden Your Horizons - Airplanista Aviation Magazine Feature Story

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This aviation magazine article was originally published in the October, 2011 issue of Airplanista Magazine. You can view the original story in our digital aviation magazine here.

Chicagoland pilot and card-carrying Airplanista Todd McClamroch says flying is all about the experiences we enjoy in the air. He says that as aviators, we should always be looking for new aviation opportunities. Go ahead, take Todd’s advice and get out there to grab a new rating, go fast in a jet, strap on a parachute or snag a ride in a piece of flying history.

By Todd McClamroch

The vertical speed indicator would be indicating a nearly 10,000 feet per minute descent if I had not left it behind in the de Havilland Twin Otter when I jumped out of it with U.S. Army Golden Knight Staff Sergeant Matt Accord strapped to my back. Earlier that morning, Matt told me despite my being a pilot for the past seven years, I had not really flown and that he would show me true flight. Descending at 120MPH, I challenged his interpretation of flight but nonetheless had as much fun in the sky that one can have without access to an airplane.

Since becoming a pilot, I’ve had the opportunity to meet people in all walks of the aviation world, and I firmly believe there is no better community than the one built around aviation. The common bond of flight has helped build tremendous friendships and given me great access to amazing flight experiences. Pilots love sharing their passion and I have often found a new and exciting experience is just a request away.

Greg Morris of Gauntlet Warbirds recently gave me a Top Gun-esque experience by taking me up in their Czech-made L-39. He handed me the controls at 14,500 feet and walked me through my first aerobatics in a jet despite only having flown aerobatics once before and having no jet time in my logbook. After one of my best hours in the sky we discussed what drives most people to fly. It is not the prospect of flying for the practicability of business or for a weekend getaway travel. Instead it is for the sheer thrill of flying.

As a young boy, I was enamored with warbirds, so having the chance to fly in the Colling’s Foundation Nine-o-Nine B-17 from Valparaiso, IN to Chicago Executive Airport was a dream come true. This experience was made all that more special when I learned one of the other passengers was taking his first flight in a B-17 since he piloted one in WWII. He was joined by his grandchildren. Hearing his stories and seeing the emotions he shared in his expressions made a flight in this living relic unforgettable.

Flying is about experiences and I challenge everyone to make sure they seek out new experiences yearly. Whether it is a seaplane rating, mountain flying experience or taking an aerobatic lesson, seek out a new and exciting opportunity to broaden your aviation horizons.

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