Friday, May 31, 2013

Helicopter and Plane Rides From Ocean City Municipal Airport (26N), New Jersey

By Douglas Bergen, Ocean City Patch 
May 30, 2013  

At Thursday's public meeting, City Council voted to award a contract to Liberty Flight School of West Chester, Pennsylvania, to operate helicopter tours from Ocean City Municipal Airport. Liberty will pay the city $1,700 for the first year and $1,734 for the second year. This is the first year for the new visitor attraction, which will operate between June and September. Council also voted to award a contract for the return of Red Baron Air Tours (Aerial Skyventures of Woodbine) with visitor bi-plane rides. 

Source:  http://oceancity.patch.com

An aerobatic outing with the Air National Guard Airshow Team: Taking a spin with Lt. Col. John Klatt (With Video)

The Air National Guard Aerobatics Team was joined on Thursday May 30, by Daily Press Assigning Editor Ryan Gilchrest. The team will perform this weekend during the Patriotic Festival. 

6:59 p.m. EDT, May 30, 2013

Editor's note: Daily Press Assigning Editor Ryan Gilchrest took a ride with Lt. Col. John Klatt of the Air National Guard Airshow Team on May 30, 2013. The following is a first-person account of his experience.


Lt. Col. John Klatt made a career out of flying the C-130 and F-16. I'm glad he powered down a bit before taking me for a spin over Hampton Roads.

I arrived at Norfolk International Airport on Thursday morning — along with Daily Press photographers Adrin Snider and Ryan Kelly — and volunteered to let Klatt show me what he could do with a lightweight, two-seat aerobatics machine called an Extra 300L. Klatt oversees the Air National Guard Airshow Team through his company, John Klatt Airshows. He is a member of the Air National Guard and deployed to Iraq in 2005, 2007 and 2009, according to a company news release.

His days in the seat of a fighter are likely in the past, he said, but his love of flight lives on. Klatt performs in around 15 air shows each year, he said, and his second event this year is this weekend's Virginia Beach Oceanfront Air Show. You can see the air show for free Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon-3 p.m.

After Snider, Kelly and I signed our lives away in the form of a legal waiver, team operations manager Tim Jarvis gave us a bit of preflight information. We would take off in formation, make a pass by the Peninsula to take a few photos, then head toward the Eastern Shore where Klatt would see just how many flips, spins, loops and slides he could do before I cried uncle. Snider and Kelly, meanwhile, would be stationed nearby — very nearby on a few occasions, as it turned out — in a Beechcraft Bonanza taking photos and video.

Since Klatt planned to perform aerobatic maneuvers, I was required to wear a parachute. Given our expected altitude of "low-enough-to-see-our-own-shadow," I recognized the relative futility of this requirement. Nevertheless, the FAA is not to be trifled with and neither is the pilot-in-command.

Klatt ran through the emergency scenarios. If we had to jump, he'd get rid of the canopy. I'd unbuckle, stand in my seat, leap straight up and pull the D-ring on the way down. He did not say it, but my mind added: "And hopefully you won't be cleaved in two by the tail of the aircraft." The water landing scenario was a bit trickier. We'd end up upside down in the bay, Klatt said, but the carbon fiber aircraft would float so we would have somewhere to sit while we waited for the Coast Guard.

I suspect the emergency chat doubles as a way for Klatt to figure out just how nervous his passenger is about the flight. Bailouts and water landings definitely fall into the category of "prepare for the worst."

Jarvis helped strap me in. I expected to be cramped, but the front seat in the Extra was a comfortable ride even snugged in tight by the shoulder harness. Klatt and I are both a few inches shy of 6 feet. Anyone over 6 feet tall or carrying a large frame might feel differently about the comfort level.

Our three-aircraft flight (another ANG Airshow Team pilot, Jeff Boerboon, flew alongside Kratt) taxied and took off in formation. The side door of the Bonanza, flown by Jarvis, was open so Snider and Kelly could take photos. Both were tethered, just in case they tumbled out the door. On the plus side, our formation was tight enough that they would have been able to put their feet on the Extra and step back in to the Bonanza.

After making a pass along the southern end of the Peninsula we headed toward Fisherman Island, on the north end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, to get down to business.

Klatt checked to see if I was ready for inverted flight. "Go fever" was in play at this point, and I would have said yes even if I wasn't prepared. The Bonanza began to move away, clearing out to allow room for Klatt and Boerboon to show off.

Next thing I know, I'm hanging upside down with a view full of the Chesapeake Bay over my head. It took a few seconds to let go and trust the harness, and once I did the experience was much like hanging upside down from the monkey bars in elementary school. A little pressure and a red face, but a lot of fun as long as you don't stay that way too long.

Klatt took a little jab at me, asking questions after we'd been inverted for about a few seconds. For me to respond, I had to find the button to key the mic (a tiny button on the throttle on the outside of my left knee) then manage to make words come out of my mouth. I choked out something enthusiastic and meant it. My inner 13-year-old was experiencing Christmas morning and the Fourth of July all at once.

The rest of the aerobatic maneuvers felt similar to a smooth roller coaster. I was strapped in tight, so I moved with the aircraft. There was no jerking or sliding sensation that might lead to motion sickness. Klatt performed hammerheads, barrel rolls, wing-overs, tail slides and loops. I was able to prepare for what was coming since he called out each maneuver beforehand to coordinate with Boerboon. Without those hints, I imagine the flight would have been disorienting.

And then, just a few exhilarating minutes later, it was over.

Almost.

Klatt flipped the Extra over one more time then pushed over slightly and held the aircraft at an inverted upward angle. This has the effect of making it feel as though you are being thrown toward the earth. If the top of my head had a relief valve, it would most certainly have popped as we made a quick pass at the photo plane.

The hop back to Norfolk International was quick and quiet. The three planes touched down in formation, and it was all over but the handshakes.

Klatt will be available in the Air National Guard information booth after each air show performance this weekend. He was adamant about his role in promoting the guard's opportunities and benefits. During his time in the guard, Klatt has flown C-130s in the 133rd Airlift Wing and F-16s in the 148th Fighter Wing. He has participated in both humanitarian and combat missions.

The ANG booth will be located along the Virginia Beach boardwalk throughout the weekend.

Story, Photos, Video:   http://www.dailypress.com