Sky Combat Ace | Flying, Diving & Spinning over Tahoe

Courtesy Sky Combat Ace

I suited up. My one-piece, black, flight suit not only made me feel the part but kind of look the part, too, as I prepared for high adventure in the sky. I was about to embark on a flight with Richard “Tex” Coe, a former military pilot and owner of Sky Combat Ace. He and his wife, Pandora, are fun, kind and professional. The company offers a variety of flying experiences such as simulated flight combat, aerial acrobatics, Top Gun or combat wingman flights that offer an adventure for adrenaline and thrill seekers while you get to fly the plane.

If you love speed, heights and spinning through the sky, Sky Combat Ace adventures offer an exciting experience of thrilling opportunities that you will not forget.

I had flown in a friend’s tiny plane years ago when we thought to do an experiment to test mindful breathing to overcome excessive speeds in the air as we hurled through the sky along the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. It worked quite well, but this would be different.

Watch Priya’s flight with Sky Combat Ace from the cockpit

I was excited to experience what a fighter pilot might experience. Before going up, I was given a safety-training orientation. I sat in the red-leather bucket couch with Tahoe Weekly publisher, Katherine E. Hill, in front of a large screen. We watched a video of a young man who had just finished a flight. He was on fire. His eyes were wide and his descriptions included blazing superlatives as he whirled his hands around.

Priya Hutner with pilot and owner Richard “Tex” Coe. | Katherine E. Hill

We watched his flight as he rolled through the sky and hit speeds in which he blacked out for a few seconds only to come back and whoop and holler with excitement. The last thing I wanted was to do on my flight was blackout or get sick to my stomach.

Tex walked me through each maneuver I would experience and how I’d execute the maneuver. Once I had the basics and an overview of the plane’s safety features, we walked out to the tarmac at the Lake Tahoe Airport where a sleek bright-blue Extra 330 plane awaited. It was a beautiful sunny day in South Lake Tahoe.

Tex strapped me into a parachute. In the event of a mishap, I was instructed to pull the D ring if we needed to eject from the plane. I stepped onto the wing of the tiny plane and slid into the front seat of the cockpit. Tex fastened me into the seatbelt and handed me a headset with a mic so we could communicate. He climbed in behind me and did a series of checks.

Tex strapping Priya Hutner into the cockpit. | Katherine E. Hill

“Are you ready to go?” I heard his voice crack over the microphone and I nodded.

We were off. The plane raced down the runway and before I knew it we were flying over Lake Tahoe. Cascade Lake and Fallen Leaf Lake came into view, a bird’s-eye view. We soared over Emerald Bay.

I was taking in the views and drinking in the beauty of Tahoe when Tex’s voice said, “Alright we’re in the air. You ready to get this party started? The first thing we need to do is a strap check.”

Priya Hutner preparing to go up. | Katherine E. Hill

The next thing I knew I was upside down. I took a breath and then we flipped right side up. Tex spun the plane around and instructed me to pick a side. I wrapped my hand around the gearshift and moved it right. The plane circled right and around I went over with it.

We took the plane through a series of barrel rolls over the lake; the mountains became a blur. Tex got the plane up to 140 knots and a few loops later at 3Gs, I was breathing hard. One of the more exciting sensations was maneuvering the plane vertical. Tex had me pull back on the gearshift. The nose pointed to the clouds and the plane dropped straight down backwards toward the water below.

After which we then flipped the nose of the plane toward the lake as the plane dropped down and flipped around. Those were only the intermediate maneuvers. We ran through a few advanced maneuvers, the last a spin, as the plane went up, up, up. Tex made the plane do a vertical flip, turned it on its back in an inverted flat spin. Whoa!

But we weren’t done yet. Tex took the plane up to 6Gs as we whirled through the air. My stomach landed in my mouth. I continued to breathe to keep myself centered. Tex redirected the plane and we cruised back to land.

If you love speed, heights and spinning through the sky, Sky Combat Ace adventures offer an exciting experience of thrilling opportunities that you will not forget.

Sky Combat Ace currently operates in Las Vegas, San Diego and South Lake Tahoe. The Tahoe location will be offering flights through early November.

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