As the media sponsor for this year's Boundary Bay Airshow, the Optimist was offered a chance for one of its employees to go for a "ride-along" with one of the performers. I was the lucky one, but I really had no idea it would be one of the most fun things I've ever done!
As soon as I found out I was going up, I phoned my brother Andrew to tell him to watch out for a small plane that might be coming his way while he was out sailing in the Georgia Strait with my sister Martha.
My colleague (and wife) Ruth drove me to the airport where we met pilot Ross Granley. As luck would have it, another gentleman who was to go up with us couldn't make it so Ross invited Ruth to join us.
Ross was a true professional, making us feel comfortable right away by stressing he wouldn't do anything up in the air that would make us feel nervous or sick. Then he asked, "So, what would you like to do up there?" I explained that my brother and sister would be out in the strait in a small sailboat and that I'd love to dive-bomb them! With a big smile on his face, Ross said, "That would be fun."
As we arrived at Ross's Yak-18, up walked his dad, Bud Granley. I've seen Bud in at least 20 airshows over the years and it was a real thrill to meet him. Bud decided to fly alongside in his red Yak-55.
We took off in formation and flew over White Rock before heading out to the strait. All this time Bud was just off our wing, often upside down!
When we noticed my brother's boat, Taboma, Ross radioed his dad and they decided to do a highspeed pass on either side.
And then the show really began! Both planes banked hard to come back towards the boat and then did a complete roll. I was having so much fun I was beside myself!
Both planes started to head back towards Boundary Bay but I whacked Ross on the arm and asked, "Can't we go by again?" Ross obliged, asking if we were OK with a loop.
Back on the radio to his dad, we soon made another hard bank back towards the boat. Andrew and Martha were still standing and waving. They were ready for more.
Both planes needed some real speed to accomplish the loop, so down we went, heading right for the boat. Then Ross pulled back on the levers and up we went and over. What an unbelievable feeling! Keep in mind, Bud is right beside us the whole way.
I was having so much fun I didn't ever want to go down. That's when I realized Ross and his dad were having just as much fun.
In fact, they weren't done yet, so after another radio call to Bud, they criss-crossed right above the boat. It was absolutely amazing!
Martha said afterward that she'd been to a lot of airshows but never had one come to her!
This time I decided not to push my luck and we headed back to the airport, the pilots having given us more pleasure than they'll ever know.