I knew I wasn’t in danger. I knew that, but it didn’t stop my heart from pounding inside my ears.
I was sweating. It wasn’t just the extreme heat.
I squinted into the sky and watched as the plane banked across the brilliant blue sky high above the airfield of the Georgia Model Aviators in north Forsyth County. I was at the controls ... sort of.
Let me back up a bit.
This group of hobbyists, the Georgia Model Aviators, is comprised of some of the friendliest people I’ve had the opportunity to meet. I first met them July 3 of last year when I was invited out to see what this group was all about.
I remember it well. The first e-mail sent to me by the GMA’s Chris Kennedy was accompanied by a photo of a “miniature” A-10 Thunderbolt.
I looked at the giant model for the propellers, and found none. This sucker was an actual jet.
Later I would find out they have planes that simulate the D-Day parachute drops with actual miniature paratroopers and also a B-29 that can drop the X-1 Rocket.
I was hooked.
However, I wasn’t prepared for how welcoming this group would be.
I went out again this year on a recent Saturday as the aviators are preparing for the Sept. 4 Warbirds Over Atlanta.
I was taking photos when David Roberts approached me.
“You ever flown one of these?”
I lowered the camera. “Well, no.”
“You’re flying one today,” he said and, before I could reply, David was off preparing what’s known as a buddy box.
The buddy box is similar to one of those driver education cars. The other pilot has the ability to take control when you’re in trouble.
Well, I knew I would be and really wasn’t sure I wanted to fly his model aircraft. Maybe I should sneak away?
The buddy box was prepped before I knew it, and I saw David walking out to the landing strip, motioning for me to join him.
I was immediately surprised how sensitive the controls were - and extremely glad David had the ability to take over.
It was strange to me at first. When the plane turned, I had to keep my sense of right and left in tact.
But I loved it. I think I almost made an entire lap without David’s help ... maybe.
I was happy the plane landed. I was thrilled I didn’t cause David to lose his plane.
It was an opportunity I wouldn’t have had if the GMA crew hadn’t invited me out and David hadn’t graciously allowed me to try out my wings. I won’t forget that anytime soon.
I can say I’m definitely not a natural model pilot. But I can also say that plane is still out there ready to fly. It survived.
I’m proud of that fact.