Last Thursday it was media day at the Abbottsford Airshow. It is something that I am sure is done at all airshows across North America. Visiting aviators and their flying machines are made available to local media before the official opening to promote and entice coverage. This year was no different. It is kind of a fun day for those participating. Usually it involves getting an opportunity to fly on an aircraft that most will never experience. Of course for us Camera humps, we get to do the shooting, but not the flying.
This year Kink got the nod to fly on behalf of the Chopper 9 Crew. He was going to get a flight on a CF 18 Hornet, the pride of the RCAF. The lucky Bastard,,,,
The Chopper 9 crew would be at the airshow as a static display, giving the public a chance to get a closer look into Western Canada's only News Gathering Helicopter. So all of us would be on hand this media day to see Kink take his seat and fly into the "Danger Zone".
Now Kink is no slouch for a man of his vintage, but he would have to pass a physical before being declared fit for flight. Some of us on the Chopper 9 team might have had to go into a month of heavy training, intense physical pain and rigorous mental preparation, but not Kink.
In his younger days I am told he was a dashing race car driver. "Speed" was his middle name. Yes our hero was a man who would laugh at danger. But at this point in Kink's life, danger involved trying to keep his beloved sailboat afloat and speed was trying to get 6 knots in a good wind.
When he arrived for his flight, he was prepared, his duffel packed a music CD of TOP GUN, an airsickness bag and a package of DEPENDS. Yes he was ready.
Nerves and excitement churned his stomach as he waited for the Flight Surgeon to call on him for his physical.
"That's me" he said.
"Please follow me,,"
And with that he was off for his date with the Physician.
Examinations are of course private and the results are confidential, but we could only assume that since Kink had a pulse and met the weight restriction (barely) he would be cleared to fly.
Our collective assumtions were correct, the Air Force will fly almost anyone, and today Kink was that someone. As he emerged from the exam room, his smile told the story.
The next time I saw him he was in his flight gear. Standing tall with his flight helmet. Proudly posing infront of the jet fighter. He looked like, well not like Iceman or Maverick of TOP GUN, but more like Clint Eastwood in Space Cowboys.
He got his final briefing as he was being strapped into the seat. Moment later the engines were ignited. As the mighty fighter taxied down the ramp the canopy closed and they made their way to the threshold of the runway.
Now I wasn't in the cockpit so I cannot describe what his experience was like, perhaps after he returns to earth he can let us know, but at the end of the flight when I spoke to him again, his smile spoke volumes of what the experience was like. Yes he had done it, all he needs now is a fighter pilot nick name.
We call him "Mach Daddy"