Why you ask? Because if they do, they will realize I give the most amazing gifts and you can't compare.
I'm sorry, it's true. That DVD collection of The Sopranos you gave last Christmas? Not gonna cut it anymore.
Because for JEGs 29th birthday I got him a helicopter ride and flight lessons.
Since I work in aviation, I know a lot of helicopter pilots. I am friendly with the guys over at Fox Choppers so I went to them first. I consprired with Matt about what time to pick him up, how long they would fly for, and where they would pick him up at. Originally I thought he would just get a tour out of it, but Matt offered to give him flying lessons as well! He was even nice enough to pick us up at Wings Field, a 10 minute drive instead of the 45 minute drive to where they are located!
I had been telling JEGs all week that his gift wasn't going to come in until Thursday, but I didn't tell him what it was. Yesterday I called him and told him his gift was in, but we needed to pick it up at 5:30. When he got home, he changed and we headed out. I really wanted to blindfold him to keep it a secret, but he put the kabosh on that- so I settled for him closing his eyes as we got closer to the air field.
But enough from me, how about we hear about the experience from the man himself? Ladies and Gents introducing a blog post from JEGs:
First I have to say... My fiance is awesome!!! She COMPLETELY surprised me with her birthday gift. She wanted to blind fold me before leaving the apartment. There might be occasions where blind folding can be fun...riding in a car just isn't one of them. So I opted to close my eyes. When we got to the airfield I assumed that she booked us a flight for a tour. Then I saw the helicopter. Instantly I knew that it would be a miracle if just me and the pilot fit. So I asked said "You aren't going?" Then she gave me ANOTHER surprise when she told me "No...You are going in the small one, and he's going to let you fly!" Sweet!
So we walk out to this thing, and once standing next to it, I got a little nervous. It's TINY. I'm almost taller than it is. The pilot was sure I would fit. So I climb in, and buckle my seat belt. He gets in the other side, and starts to go over the controls and gauges and procedures etc etc. Me being the curious minded person that I am, I was already familiar with the controls, and the "basic" principles of flying a helicopter. I sometimes take up random subjects like that just to learn about them. I read and watch videos and tutorials. The Internet is great. Plus...you never know when they'll come in handy. Which apparently they did.
My fiance is great...Did I say that yet?
So we took off. This wasn't my first time in a helicopter, but it was my first time in one so tiny. It was actually a lot of fun. You can see everything around you and below you like you are in a bubble. In fact...that's basically what it is. An aluminum framed bubble with a VW motor and a couple fans. Hindsight... We taxied out, which in a helicopter means we floated along the run ways about 15 feet off the ground, then headed up to our cruising altitude of about 1000 feet. He pointed us towards center city. I was enjoying some of the sights while he sort of gave me some specs on the chopper and some info on controls again. I snapped about 3 pictures before he says "Go ahead and put your feet on the pedals". Not really feeling like I had a choice, I did. He showed me how the pedals worked and had me move them around some. Then he moved on to show me what the collective did (increases/decreases lift). Then the cyclic (the stick that controls left/right tilting forward/pitching back).
We got out over the city in about 15 minutes or so. We sort of fly around over top of the river, checking out some of the ships and what not. Time to head back. He swings us around, and gets us set on a heading back to the airport.
This is where it gets really fun for me. He basically tells me that I'm going to fly us back to the airport. He gives me some pointers on how to visually tell that we are going in the right direction and keeping it level. Then he moves the controls over to my side and basically says "here ya go!" haha. It was sketchy...I'm not going to lie. It took me a few minutes to relax, and sort of get a feel for how the chopper moved. But once I settled down, it was actually smooth sailing! Save for a couple of adjustments and inputs, I basically flew the thing back! It was such an awesome feeling. We got closer to the airport, and I got to make some banking turns to line us up, then he handled the approach.
Once closer to the ground, he asked if I wanted to try to hover. Hovering requires MUCH more input than flying does. Its a lot less stable and is pretty hard to do from what Ive heard. So I tried, and I lasted 10 or 15 seconds before I had to give up and he took over. Then we landed and that was that! After getting out of that thing I felt like I had just cut the grass on my grandfather's old riding mower. It vibrated so much!
Ok, LB back again. If you, or someone you know is interested in learning to fly helicopters or just want a tour of the city, please head over to Fox Choppers website- and ask for Matt when you call. He's the bee's knees.