Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Take Off

All the waiting, anticipating was finally over as I heard the engines begin to spool up, feeling the power rise both audibly and by touch until we finally began to roll slowly away towards the runway. Once there I could hear Leonid talking with the tower not understanding a word of his Russian of course. And then, all at once (although probably another 5 minutes) and we were moving to the point that the in-cockpit video clearly distorts with vibration showing me forcibly pushed back into the seat. Once clear of the runway, the vibration stopped and we were a rocket climbing at a 45 degree angle towards the sun.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Mach 2.4

If you look carefully at the meter with the “M” on the dial you will see it is pointing to 2.4 as in mach 2.4 or about 1,700 MPH, maximum velocity for this flight.

As Newton and Einstein predicted, there is no obvious sensory indication that you are traveling this fast. In fact, the only time in the flight that speed was apparent was on takeoff when I was momentarily thrust back in the seat, and even then only for the first few moments.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

80,000 Feet Max Elevation

The ride was exactly what Leonid said it would be in the briefing right down to each turn and twist.

I listened as he described what we would do but I didn’t think it would be as literal as it turned out to be. I suppose there can’t be too much precision in things like this.

The pictures of the earth curve give you some idea of the view from the higher elevations. Spectacular and the point of the trip.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Final Thoughts

About a half hour after we took off we were back down; the ride of a lifetime now over.

Thinking back I see that adventures like this are as much if not more about the anticipation of what will be rather than the event itself.

The idea to do this first came about the previous spring, which meant I had a good four months to contemplate what would be.

At first it seemed so far off but as the day to leave for Russia came nearer so did thoughts about what I would be doing. As you might imagine, a lot of imagining what it would be like including what I hoped would be the very slim chance something would go wrong.

I think about it now and see little correlation between what I thought it would be like relative to how it actually was.

First of all it was probably the fastest half hour of my life. Second there was not as much sensory “drama” as I had assumed there would be.

80,000 feet and 1,700+ MPH notwithstanding, I felt more riding in Kevin Kegin’s open cockpit T6 than I did in the Mig.

But that’s OK. As I said the experience is much more than that half hour. It is everything leading up to it and all the thinking about it since.

All told, an Incredible Adventure.