The Right Stuff

No doubt about it – my favorite local airshow is the annual Vertical Challenge helicopter airshow at the Hiller Aviation Museum at San Carlos Airport.

In addition to this annual airshow being a whole lot of fun, there are lots of sentimental memories for me at San Carlos. My Cherokee 235 was based at the Skyway Building tiedowns for several years. On Saturday, as in years before, I walked by within a few feet of where I used to preflight her – just the perfect parking place! Before that, I was a regular almost every day at the transient parking tie downs over by the Sky Kitchen as I flew to work most days. Two cars and an airplane to get to work! Oh, the memories!

Flying is the ultimate freedom – it really does set you free. I used to take off out of San Carlos after a crazy day at the office, fly over to Half Moon Bay, head south along the Pacific coast shoreline at 1,000 feet – and simply forget about the business day that I had just left behind. Oh, such great therapy! I’d swoop low over Santa Cruz before turning east, climbing up to clear the mountain ridge and landing at South County – by that time I really was in my own world!

At last Saturday’s Vertical Challenge, I happened to catch a shot of Chuck Aaron, the Red Bull aerobatic helicopter pilot, while he was talking to a Cobra pilot. I like to think they were comparing their favorite techniques in high performance helicopters. Aaron’s the only FAA-certified aerobatic helicopter pilot in the country – how’s that for being one of a kind?! Yes, Chuck’s simply got the right stuff – and he’s such a sheer joy to watch flying his helicopter out there over the Bay – upside down!

Wow! Freedom – and the right stuff – indeed! Hey, my old flight bag is out there in the garage – calling me…!

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