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Flying the Air National Guard's Stunt Plane

by Jack Penning

Posted on August 9, 2007 at 4:43 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:45 PM

It's well documented on these pages that my friend and colleague Steph Stricklen got a chance to fly with the Blue Angels. Not to be outdone, as KGW's aviation reporter, I hooked-up a flight of my own. Major John Klatt of the Air National Guard invited me to come along for a flight in his aerobatic stunt plane.

Unfortunately, I don't have any cool photos of my adventure, like Steph did, but I do have video of the flight posted in our Video on Demand section, and here's a photo of the plane:

John's Extra 300 Aircraft

We flew out of the Scappoose Airport, so we'd have plenty of airspace to use. The flight started out gently, and I spent some time at the controls. Although I don't have my pilot's license, I have done much of the training, and I've flown a number of small aircraft. I've never flown anything like the Extra 300 (aircraft information courtesy It was unbelievably responsive. John asked me to climb. I pulled back on the yoke. We were immediately headed almost straight up. The plane has so much power it can climb at a virtual 90-degree angle, and still gain airspeed.

When John took over we rolled inverted, to make sure we were both well strapped-in. We didn't fall into the canopy... so off we went. We did about 15-minutes worth of stunts. They're hard to explain, but they involved lots of rolls, loops, and twists... and looked something like this:


The big question everyone asks: did I get sick? The answer:


I actually surprised myself. I get more sick looking at the cockpit video from the flight than I did when I was flying! I've flown aerobatically a little bit, and never had the misfortune of getting sick - so I must be doing something right.

But the real story is that John took it easy on me! I asked him how close what we did was to his airshow material and he told me, "nowhere near it!" But he also laid down the challenge - to come back and do the full show sometime.

John, I'm thinking about it!