Wing-walking on a biplane in the Olympics

Wing-walking on a biplane in the Olympics

Ever since I saw a post by a travel friend of mine, strapped outside a rusting red biplane plane, arms stretched – while the plane seemed to be in the middle of a roll, it had me intrigued. It seemed straight out of a James Bond or an MI stunt scene!  I figured the stunt is better known as wing-walking, and that one of the handful of wing-walking schools, is right in my backyard near Seattle. After a few email exchanges, I got on their training schedule and hoped for a good weather window. Based out of Sequim, Mason Wingwalking has been offering training courses and recreational stunts for a long time.

They offer a few different options – you could walk just the top wing, or both the top and the lower wings. The first few hours of the day are spent on the ground, getting to know the plane, practicing every maneuver over and over again until you can repeat with eyes closed – getting out of the cockpit, twisting and turning your body to get to the top of the wing. Next up is perhaps the most important part – locking yourself into the harness, and planting your feet into the cusps. There is no room for panicking when repeating all of this at 5k feet in the air with wind gushing in your face. Coordination with your pilot is extremely important since you rely on an agreed upon set of codes: for e.g. a wild swing implies the pilot is ready for you to leave the cockpit and climb the wing.

 

After a few hours of ground practice, it was time to take off and enjoy the free air. The entire flight lasted about 20-25 minutes. It took about 5-7 minutes to hit the right altitude of 3500 feet and the permitted air-box. Once in the zone, Mike Mason, our pilot, signaled me to climb up the wing. I unbuckled my seat belt, carefully maneuvered my body and climbed the wing, strapped myself securely, and gave a thumbs up. We flew flat for a few minutes, absorbing the beautiful surroundings. Another wild swing indicated it was time for acrobatics – loops, rolls and hammerheads. After a few anxious moments, I really started enjoying the acrobatics – so much so that I didn’t want it to stop!

Once the acrobatics routine was complete, Mike signaled again with his wild swing, and I carefully retraced my steps back into the cockpit –  still high from the adrenaline rush. Multilpe GoPros which are strapped on to the wings captured a few stunning images.

Would you consider making a trip to Sequim, Washington for a wing-walking adventure?

Stepping out of the cockpit
Stepping out of the cockpit

 

The pilot pulls off a hammerhead
The pilot pulls off a hammerhead

 

In the middle of a loop
In the middle of a loop

About Praveen Maloo

Praveen is currently based out of Seattle, United States. He loves coffee, conversations, micro-brews, and intimate jazz music scenes. When its not raining in Seattle, he can be seen enjoying the beautiful outdoors of the Pacific North-West.


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