The G1 Experience

Flying an angel out of hell.

We’re on short final, airspeed winding down and down. He glances over at me over his spectacles rims. His eyes are glinting even more than his glasses.

Gee. Something’s up.

WE are. We’re too high. And way too slow.

He looks at me again. Now I can’t read anything in his eyes anymore. He mouths something over the intercom. I don’t hear that well but I nod in return. My shoulders rise under the tight straps.

<Shrugs>.

It’s either a sideslip, or a go around, I guess. Like my instructor always tells me, and like all instructors tell everybody. If you don’t feel good, go around. Or sideslip. But we’re too close to the runway for a sideslip. I guess it’s a go-around then.

Then he shoved the stick in his stomach and pulled the nose up into a full stall.

On finals. 500 feet above the ground.

This guy is bloody crazy.

What am I doing here?

I see the hedge float up into my face and the trees blur into shapeless blobs of green as we drop out of the sky. Like an elephant-sized rock. But the plane is stable. Even though the air howling around the cabin and even though the rising earth is scaring the crap out of me. I’m feeling really secure. The fat slats are fighting with the air, gripping the air and holding on to the air like cat claws. Not a fat cat, please. Rather like how a puma would cling on to an escaping prey. For survival.

He nudges the stick a bit. And wham. Magic. The wings are flying again. Just a small effotless shove-and we’re gliding again. I can see the tall grass bending to greet us. Flying steadily and peacefully now-although my heart is still trying to open the door to get back into the aircraft-we’re gliding as if nothing had happened. Comes the threshold, then the flare.

But not in the G1. No siree.

Yank back on the throttle. The Rotax whine cuts off to a hush grunt. Then pull back on the stick and let it slam to the ground in another stall.

And geez, some guys think flying is hard or for the naturally gifted.

Ballsacks. You never met this thing. This thing is dang simple. You land? You stall it. Period. Even the russians couldn’t have built something like this.

The landing gear legs splay out like an oiled elephant dancing ballet. It widens out so much I can see the fucking tire in the corner of my eye. Just a wee bit more and the landing gear would have snapped like an old bone. If it had been carbon it would have anyway. If it had been aluminum it would have stayed bent and we would have needed an ambulance.

The forged chromoly springs back in an orderly fashion and we’re shoved into the seat as the aircraft bounces back upwards. Talk about leaf springs! These things are like friggin’ suspenders high on steroids.

He squeezes the brake lever-like a boxer would drive a car. A small skid develops-but let go just a bit- and there. Perfect.

I’m fumbling with the straps, hoping to run away from this man and run away this machine and run away from this place. Run far far away. But I can’t.

My ass has rooted itself into the seat and I need to pick my jaw off the floor.

Why? Cauz…

This is one hell of an airplane.

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