The Rhode Island National Guard Open House and Air Show is an annual event for a lot of people in this area. Each year, their PR people give us a chance to photograph one of their stunt pilots to promote the show. It makes great pictures, shooting from an open-sided chase plane as the stunt plane flies just a few yards away with local landmarks in the background. After one of The Day’s photographers shot this last year, we remarked that it would be cool to have a reporter do a video from inside the stunt plane. Turns out this is something they do all the time.
When this opportunity rolled around again this year, my regular partner in crime Rick Koster was supposed to take the flight. He ended up having to cancel the day before, so I thought it was going to be a missed opportunity. I sent out an email to the newsroom at the end of the day looking for volunteers, but hadn’t heard from anyone when I left for a 6pm assignment. I got home to find that reporter Julianne Hanckel was interested in taking the flight.
We met Team Oracle pilot Sean D. Tucker the next morning at Groton/New London Airport. First, Julianne flew with us in the chase plane to get a look at some of Tucker’s stunts. Then she joined him in the cockpit. Tucker’s plane had a camera in the cockpit, and one on the wing. They provided us with a tape of the in-plane footage, which helped give a unique view of the experience.