18 Jan
Hitting 7 G's + 300 miles per hour & living to tell the tale

Aerial adventure company Sky Combat Ace invited Nicolas Stecher to jump aboard one of their Extra 330 LC stunt planes — the most agile prop plane on Earth — and fly with one of their fighter pilots for AskMen. Little did he know that he would be piloting his own plane through an Evel Knievel list of stunts. This is his story of what seven G’s will do to a human body…

We’re currently 3,500 feet above Malibu and climbing vertiginously, shooting straight into the sky at 300 miles per hour. The blood is quickly leaving my frontal lobe and draining to my cerebellum. My stomach, conversely, has decided to KO its duties and leapfrog my esophagus in its digestive tract positioning. Everything in front of my eyes, which is to say the sun and clear California stratosphere, is brilliant blue. I think I’m gonna pass out.

Then, the single Lycoming 6-cylinder engine on our Extra 330 LC plane slows to an idle. The bassy thrum in our cabin quiets, everything goes silent. “OK, we’re gonna twist over to the left. When you see the horizon pass by and we’re headed straight down, wait for my command and get ready to pull back on the flight stick,” a voice says calmly over my earpiece.

For a moment I think it’s God offering me one final path to salvation. And then from the foggy depths of my bloated cerebellum I recognize it’s the voice of instructor Richard “Tex” Coe crackling over the intercom, and I realize this has nothing to do with God. In fact, after getting to know the retired fighter pilot a little bit, I think it might have a lot more to do with his brimstone and fire-infused arc angel. And then it happens, exactly as Tex describes. I tighten my grip on the joystick-like controller and push it gently, only about three-quarters of an inch, to the left. Instantly the Extra stunt plane rotates as if on a swivel, swift and smooth. The Santa Monica Mountains suddenly spring up from out of view behind me and clockwise swing from the left to the right side of the glass canopy. My stomach swallows my heart; the brilliant blue of the sky is replaced by the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean, brushed with the white caps of breakers. And now we’re headed straight down, plummeting towards the water, and our imminent deaths, at negative 3 Gs. Lighter than weightless.

I have never known fear like this. It is complete. Robust. All encompassing. And yet, strangely fulfilling.

Every cell in my body revolts at the utter unnaturalness of what it is experiencing. I fight to keep some semblance of clarity. My life is literally in my hands as I hold the stick firm, hurtling towards a watery grave, waiting for a command from the divine voice to come booming over my earpiece. It’s hard to breathe.

Flying upside down in the Extra 330 plane below. Hit the Jump to continue reading “Aces High: Pulling Crazy Aerial Stunts & Risking Your Life With Sky Combat Ace”…