photos to enlarge)
David Ready to Fly
At the hotel
Shannon at Zhukovsky
David and MiG
David and Vladimir
MiG-25 take off
Shannon and Ivan
Pre-flight medical check
David & Vladimir
David & Ildus
After L-39 flight
is gone forever; Tomorrow is yet to be; Today is a gift, that's
why they call it the Present."
Life is short and we only get one shot at it. As a child, I was
always fascinated with speed and jet planes. As an engineering
student, I designed turbo jet engines. As an adult, I dreamed
of the day that I could break the sound barrier, pull 6+ G's,
and fly to the edge of the atmosphere. Today, I have the opportunity
to make that dream come true.
Tomorrow morning, I will be fulfilling that dream. I am flying
to Moscow, Russia to embark upon an incredible adventure into
space. I will fly in two Russian military jets including a MiG-25
and an L-39 in which I will perform maneuvers such as loops, rolls,
split S's, and dives and attain speeds up to 1,600 MPH or over
2 ½ times the speed of sound! I will climb to an altitude
of 85,000 feet, where above me is a black sky filled with stars
and below me will be blue sky with the curvature of the Earth
in view! At that very moment, I will the highest human on the
Unfortunate circumstances yielded disaster last week that will
change the world forever. My heart goes out to every victim, every
family, and every rescuer involved. However, we must not lose
sight of our desires and dreams. Many have told me that I am crazy
for going overseas and nuts for flying in a military jet over
Russian air space. I will not let a terrorist take my lifelong
dream away from me. If we live in fear, if we neglect to carry
on and live out our dreams, he wins.
I am an American. I am very proud of that, and no one will take
that away from me. Never be afraid to try something new. Remember,
amateurs built the Ark; Professionals built the Titanic.
Wish me luck, as I embark on my 'adventure of a lifetime.' I
have included all of you on an email 'distribution address list'
where you will receive digital photos of my adventure while in
Russia. I return on September 27, 2001 and will update all of
you at that time.
Greg, now that we are home, we wanted to personally
thank you and your staff for the trip of a lifetime. Our trip
to Russia was both tremendous and enlightening. The 4-star Swiss
Diamond Hotel was very exquisite and offered amenities that were
second-to-none. Our tours of Moscow opened our eyes to this beautiful
city of architecture, cathedrals, museums, shops, ballet, and
With respect to the staff, we could not have picked a better
group of people if we could have designed them! Of course, I am
referring to the representatives Galina, Nick, Victor, and Marina,
and the pilots Ildus, Vladimir, and Alexandre. Not only were they
very professional and a great asset to your company, but they
were also great human beings that opened our hearts and minds
about Russians as people. Although we come from the opposite sides
of the world, it is truly only our language that makes us different.
People like Galina, Nick and Victor added to the experience in
that we looked forward to their company. They made our experience
in a country so different than ours a great encounter.
The flight experience, from the dress-up, briefing, and ejection
training to the take-off, flight, and landing, was an adventure
that will stay with me forever. It was more than I ever imagined!
At the top-secret Zhukovsky Air Force Base, my wife Shannon apprehensively
watched on the ground with her new friends Galina, Nick, and the
ground crew, as I began to live out my lifelong dream.
It began with the high-speed, high-altitude interceptor MiG-25
Foxbat-C flight with Vladimir Loginovski. Vladimir, a Hero of
Russia Award recipient for his 3,000 hours of fighter piloting
in over 30 aircraft, had me soaring at Mach 2.4 (1,600 mph) up
to an 81,000-foot ceiling, where the sky was black above and the
Earth was curved below. The power of the 50,000 pounds of thrust
by these two afterburning turbojets combined was breathtaking
as we passed through the sound barrier in what seemed like seconds!
The adventure continued with fighter and test pilot Alexandre
Pavlov. With over 4,000 flights, Alex took me on an aerobatic
flight in the L-39 Albatross, where we pulled 6-G's through dives,
climbs, loops, and rolls. During flight, I proudly took the controls
and performed maneuvers following Alex's instruction. My only
regret: not putting the in-flight video camera in the L-39 versus
the MiG-25! On day two, I experienced the fluent maneuvers of
Ildus Kiramov, a retired Air Force Colonel and Honored Test Pilot.
This Hero of Russia, whose 31 years of flight experience emanated
through the smooth L-39 flight, flew me at 12,000 feet through
split-S's, powerful 6-G turns, Immelmans, and zero-G tail slides.
We concluded with a champagne lunch celebration with Galina,
Nick, Victor, and the pilots at the base. At the apex of the MiG-25
flight, Vladimir and myself were the highest persons in the world.
Even though physically, I am now back on the ground, I will mentally
always be at 81,000 feet, the highest in the world! Personally,
there is no price tag you can put on a priceless experience that
will last a lifetime. It is no wonder why your company is called
"Incredible Adventures!" Thank you.
Sincerely, David and Shannon
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