Every year for the 4th of July, Cedar Rapids puts on this huge festival to celebrate. It starts up in mid-June and goes through the 4th. For the past several years, Ariesna and I have bought buttons for the festival1 but have missed most of the festival. Given that we live in Cedar Rapids now, we’ve been making an effort to actually attend some of the events. This morning we got up at 7 AM2, hopped into the car and drove out to the Marion Airport. The airport was hosting a Fly-In/Drive-In breakfast, offering airplane/helicopter rides and had numerous planes for spectators to look at. Ariesna & I decided to go for a helicopter ride which was … quite the experience. First off, here’s a few rules/tips for any other first-time flyers to keep in mind when going to one of these sort of things:
- Wear blue jeans or at least some kind of pants. Standing near the landing area for the helicopter gets rather chilly with the chop from the spinning blades.
- Tuck your shirt in so it doesn’t blow up around you.
- Wear shoes, not sandals. Makes it easier walking through the grass over to where the helicopter was landing/taking off.
- Leave your hat in the car. The chop from the helicopter is strong enough to blow it off your head.
- Leave your purse/bag in the car. There’s very limited space in a helicopter, and you don’t want it to:
- bonk the controls with a heavy bag while the pilot is trying to do his thing.
- watch your purse/bag go sliding out the helicopter to fall way, way, way down to the ground.
Just a few thoughts you should consider. Anyway, back to the story. Ariesna was feeling very nervous about the flight while we were waiting in line but doing her best to stay calm. Then when we were 3rd in line, the people in front of us asked to switch places with us as there were only 2 helicopters in service for the rides and they wanted to chat with the pilot of the one we would have ridden on. We immediately took them up on their offer and then had a pleasant chat with them while they waited. It turned out they’ve been coming to this Fly-In/Drive-In for the past 3 years and look forward to flying with one particular pilot every year. They also reassured Ariesna about the flight and got her calmed down nicely. Then before we knew it, it was our turn. The helicopter had room for 3 pilot (1 pilot & 2 passengers). Ariesna climbed into the center of the aircraft while I got the “window seat”. I put that in quotes because the side of the helicopter was totally open. No windows, no doors just a big, big hole you climbed in/out of3. Once we were strapped in and put on our headphones, I realized I had something of a problem. Either the cord on my headphones was very short, caught on something or I was sitting on it but I had no leeway with it. I couldn’t sit up or even really hunch over while wearing the headphones. I ended up, slightly hunched with the headphones partly askew. The lift-off made me think of a bumpy roller coaster and then we were in the air over a corn field. It was also around that time I realized I was definitely going to have problems with this ride. See, I tend to get vertigo but only in a certain range of heights. Under roughly 10-12 feet and flying in an airplane up above the clouds, I’m fine. However for certain distances between there, heights can give me the willies. I tend to think of it as the range between small hurts and certain death. The helicopter flew at just the perfect height to trigger my feelings of vertigo. Wheeee! Now add in the lack of a door on the helicopter, being strapped in with a single lap belt and my side of the aircraft being the one which dropped down on every turn; and you’ll understand why I only took 2 photos during our flight. Spending the rest of it with one hand clamped to the side of the helicopter and the other locked onto my wife’s hand. Naturally, she thought this was hilarous once we landed.
*sigh* No respect, no respect at all.
Then we walked around looking at the planes setup for show, snapping a couple of pics4. When I later review the pics, it turned out most were over-exposed, so I’ll have to edit them in GIMP before posting the rest. Finally, we decided to get some breakfast. Only the line at the airport’s breakfast was long and the food looked unappealing. So we drove off to Village Inn, had an entirely too big of a breakfast complete with coffee and pie. Mmmm, pie. Good times, good times.
1 The buttons get you into some events for free or at a reduced rate.
2 *ugh* On the weekend, we strongly prefer to lounge about till late in the morning.
3 There were obvious mounting points for a door, so I’m guessing they removed the door to make it easier to get people in/out for these rides.
4 Which I have posted to a Fly-In/Drive-In set on my Flickr account.