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D Magazine Intern Lives Out Top Gun Dreams

This Saturday and Sunday, daring aviators from all over the world will perform death-defying maneuvers at the Texas Motor Speedway, the sixth of eight stops in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. Instead of watching race cars whiz around an oval track for hours (kind of boring), the crowd on hand will look skyward as planes weave in and out of large pylons only 50-80 feet above the ground at 200-plus miles per hour.

Back in June, Texas native and world-class pilot Kirby Chambliss took me up to give me a taste of the sort of G-forces he and his competitors on the racing circuit must endure. First, an upright flat spin, where the airplane stalls and then descends down. From inside the steel contraption, I couldn’t tell where we were headed next. Up, down, jab right, then left. Why did I sign up for this? I thought to myself. Next we cartwheeled end over end three times, rolling the plane one-and-a-half times per second and then falling backwards at 90 mph. The cockpit filled with smoke from the tail.

My stomach is still in recovery, but it was worth it for the few minutes of getting to feel like Maverick from Top Gun. Check out the video evidence, and if you’re interested in going this weekend, ticket information is right this way.

Aaron Claycomb was a D Magazine summer 2014 intern.