I got to ride in a WWII trainer today!!!

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Sep 17, 2004
Moorpark, CA
Hi guys. As most of you know, I have been a volunteer at a WWII aviation museum for about 5 years now. I had another of my monthly presentations today. I wasn't terribly excited about it, or even going to the airport today as last week was perhaps one of the worst weeks of my life. Long story. Anyway, I realized as I was almost there that I had forgotten my camera. I didn't think it would be a big deal forgetting it as I already have pictures of damn near every airplane at Camarillo!

I was setting up the PA early for the presentation and one of the guys comes over and asks our wing commander if he wants to take a ride "round the patch". Believe it or not, Casey said no thanks! I asked if I could go. Casey gave a nod and I followed Al out to the SNJ-5 "290". After a brief intro as to where to strap in and punch in the headset, parachute procedures, etc, I pulled the canopy back closed.

We did the standard tail dragger wobble taxi down to the run-up area and warmed up the P W. Cleared for takeoff, we rolled down runway 26 and headed skyward with a quick turn right and climb. We ascended to 3400 feet at 130 knots. I sat quietly and took in the view, it was a perfect day, great visibility and calm winds. The temperature was just right, not too hot, not too cold.

Al had some manuevers to practice, so I just sat back in my parachute harness, locked the belt (it has a mechanism that allows you to shift forward or be locked in place, similar to a passive restraint system, but manual) and enjoyed the ride. Al was practicing some tight turns with a healthy G load. I was thankful for a cast iron stomach when it comes to airplane rides. My stomach was in lock down mode as he went from positive to negative Gs. He would put us into a tight turn, level off, climb a bit then drop the nose and turn again. I was grinning like a Cheshire cat and loving it!

After the manuevering around, we did a leisurely flight back over my neighborhood and the edge of the burn areas from some of the recent fires, near Simi Valley. We went right over the Camarillo grade on the return trip (101 freeway), so it was just like driving to the airport, from 3400 feet! ;)

We did a nice flyover of Camarillo airport runway, went around and then turned onto final. This is quite a bit more agressive than in the AN-2 Colt, by the way, and the airplane is a bit more responsive than the Colt! It was a nice gentle falling feeling and Al dropped it right on the hashmarks for a beautiful landing. As we taxied in, he told the tower he wanted to go around the pattern one more time, so out we went back to runway 26 for another takeoff. Airborn, wheels up, tight left turn around the back of the airport, drop the gear again and another nice placement on the hashmarks.

It is interesting to be sitting in the back of the SNJ when it lands. You can really watch the pilot working the rudder pedals to keep it straight.

About 45 minutes total flight time that went by like a flash. Great ride, great weather, great memory. Now if I had only remembered my friggin camera! Next time. Here are some older shots of the old girl I went up in today.

One more thing, when we arrived back at the CAF ramp, who was there to greet me? WWIIaircraft.net's own A6M3 (Eric). He was grinning as he asked "How was it?". Well, what else could I say, other than "Awesome!" 8)

This was a perfect way to put a high note on what was a bloody horrible week. I didn't get any stick time, but it was okay, I was just taking it all in and enjoying it.


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Yeah, bastard!
Oh, oh yeah...lucky too...;)

Seriously, that must have been something else. My first question to Al would have been "Hey listen, do I have time for a quick sh*t before we go?". Just in case. :lol:
I was really bummed that I didn't have my camera, but I am hoping that it's not another 5 years before I get a chance again. But I have been very fortunate to get a chance to not only be around these old birds, but getting a chance to sit in them, work on them, and now fly in them.

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