Imagine the weightless feeling at the very top of a roller coaster, the exact moment before hurtling back down toward the Earth.
Now imagine not seeing the track as you creep over the edge and gravity takes over.
A cheesy grin is all I could muster at the top of a steep climb before pilot Brian Reynolds put the 8,000-pound AH-1 Cobra into a steep dive, increasing speed as we barreled toward the ground.
Reynolds asked over the headset if I was feeling all right — the signature move puts many of his passengers into a queasy funk they can’t quite rebound from.
All I could yell was “this is awesome” from the front seat, waiting for the next maneuver.
It was one of the many climbs and dives that are part of the routine that will be used during this weekend’s Olympic Air Show at the Olympia Regional Airport.
Reynolds, president of the Olympic Flight Museum, was taking the Cobra on a practice of the 8-minute solo show, and I was fortunate enough to tag along.
The Cobra was used during Operation Desert Shield, among other military encounters, Reynolds said. The shakiest part of the entire ride was pre-flight, waiting to take off and practice around the airfield.
The rest was smooth sailing, with a kick of adrenaline.
For those who would rather watch, the 15th annual air show is this weekend. Traditionally held on Father’s Day weekend, the show was moved after the military sequester.
Organizers had to move the date to accommodate additional civilian acts, pushing the event to this weekend.
“No air shows across the country got military assets,” said Teri Thorning, museum executive director and Olympic Air Show coordinator. “If you wanted civilian performers — the ones you wanted or any at all — you had to be flexible to their schedule.”
Thorning said she knew of at least 40 shows nationwide that completely canceled as a result of the military sequester.
The Olympic Air Show was not going to be among them.
“I wanted to focus on what we can do and not what we can’t do,” Thorning said. “The museum was committed to hosting this show for the community.”
The event attracts around 10,000 people over the weekend, Thorning said.
Without Army helicopters and Air Force jets, the museum looked to focus instead on antique aircraft, World War II war birds and its own collection.
In addition to the museum collection, the thousands who attend can expect to see a Waco YPF, a 1935 biplane and a Stinson Model 105.
“Our emphasis this year, instead of being military assets, are antique aircraft or what we like to call ‘from the golden age,’” Thorning said.
Military will still make an appearance in the form of recruiters, as well as a few military planes that are already part of the museum’s collection.
There will also be plenty on the ground for attendees to enjoy, including the Budweiser Clydesdales on Sunday.
Thorning has not decided whether or not the event will be put back to its original Father’s Day date next year.
“We will probably review to see how this year goes,” Thorning said.
Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476