A Very Brief History
Wing Walking is nearly as old as flight itself, Almost always performed on a Bi-Plane (a plane with two wings, duh) dating back to 1911 when Colonel Samuel Franklin Cody took his two stepsons for a flight on the lower wing of his plane. During the 1920’s it’s popularity skyrocketed and was performed by pilots from Charles Lindberg to Bessie Coleman The first African-American women to hold a pilots license.
Since then it’s popularity has waxed and waned but the concept remains the same. Climb to either the top wing of a biplane and strap yourself in, or climb to the side of the wing and hold on for dear life.
I have always dreamed of doing this from the first time I saw this performed at an airshow when I was 12.
And it finally came to fruition.
How It Happened
I put it in the back of my mind as impossible until I happened to search the web one day and came across Mason Wing Walking Located in Sequim (pronounced squim) Washington, just 4 hours north of me. Please check them out as they are the only place to do this in America!
I called on a Wednesday and was up there and training by 9 a.m. Saturday.
The Training And Lead-up
The plane was beautiful and the flight controls and instruments reminded me of old WWII Movies.
We trained for approx. 4 hours, every movement planned out and perfected before the plane even starts.
After the training the weather finally broke and sun shone us the way to adventure!
I slid into my harness and safety pinned the buttons on my jacket then hopped in the cockpit and the plane took off.
The Climb To Altitude
The ascent was beautiful as I could see the water to my right and the picturesque land to my left. I will say it was hard to enjoy the beauty when the realization of what I’d signed up for finally hit me.
We reached four thousand feet and the pilot gave me the thumbs up signal letting me know it was time to climb to the upper wing, and strap myself in for the ride of my life.
The Moment Of Truth
I slowly and deliberately climbed up, with the wind acting against my every move and the adrenaline making my hands as precise as two salad spoons.
Finally reaching the top harness, I strapped myself into the waste strap, and put my feet securely in the foot holds and turned to give the pilot a thumbs up letting him know I was ready for him to begin the aerobatics.
The aerobatics range from a feeling of weightlessness to almost 3.5 Gs of downforce, I got a view of the world careening towards me at 140 Miles per hour then at every other angle from upside down, to sideways and it never stopped changing.
Imagine the rollercoaster feeling times 10 but with nothing to look at but the sky and the earth.
I have been skydiving, bungee jumping, ran with the bulls and rode over 150 MPH on a motorcycle, but nothing compares to the raw excitement and sheer fear I felt while the plane is expertly flipped and spun.
Check out A video of the experience!
After all the aerobatics the plane leveled out and I finally had a chance to catch my breath and enjoy the views. But this was short lived.
The pilot wagged the wings letting me know to look at him for instructions and he pointed down to the cockpit.
I climbed back to the cockpit shaking and hooting and hollering. But it was not over yet.
The Wing Ride
The plane climbed back to 4000 feet and the signal was given again, but this time to climb on the side of the wing to do it all over again.
The climb to the side is much more difficult as I felt the wind from the prop as well as the wind from the flight speed.
My feet were blown off the tiny area I was supposed to step on and patience and direct movements were key.
I finally made my way to the javelin which is the area I was to lay on for the second half of the excitement.
I laid down on it and off we went again for spins and drops and what seemed liked gravity defying aerobatics.
The feeling on the wing is incredible as you feel like you are a bird, a plane, or superman himself.
After all the aerobatics the plane leveled off and I once again got to enjoy the views. I released my death grip to enjoy some wind swimming and some superman poses.
After a few minutes the signal is given and I climbed back into the cockpit.
As I sat down and buckled a feeling of inexplicable relief hit me and I sat in a bath of the greatest feeling known to man. Accomplishment and adrenaline.
Th Bi-plane landed as soft as I’ve ever felt and I nearly kissed the ground.
This is an experience like no other and I will never forget the people I met(looking at you Omar A.K.A. The Black Baron), or the feelings I experienced.
Pushing past fear when you can control the situation makes it much easier to do it when you cannot. And for that opportunity I thank everyone at Mason Wing walking for making this the greatest experience of my life. I will be back soon, but not too soon…