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In the words of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air: “My life got flipped-turned upside down.” I recently went on a media ride with the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team at the Natchitoches Regional Airport.
The team performed at the Wings Over Natchitoches Air Show Oct. 14. It’s truly a unique event that is entertaining and educational for the entire Natchitoches community.
The pilots perform their routines inside a “box” of airspace identified by markers on the ground. The box is 3,300 feet long and 3,300 feet wide. The top is 3,500 feet above ground level.
One of the maneuvers the Aeroshell Team performed during my ride was the “Loop.” The loop—a vertical circle in the sky—is a fundamental aerobatic maneuver, one of the first skills fledgling aerobatic pilots learn. Seeing Natchitoches from upside down, suspended in the air as I was and strapped into the back seat of Regan’s plane, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll never forget.
The plane I flew in is nicknamed “the pilot maker.” The North American AT-6 Texan first appeared in 1938. Originally designed as a basic trainer for the U.S. Army Air Corps, it was the primary training platform for airmen in WWII. My pilot, Bryan Regan, is the right wing of the Aeroshell Team. His fellow team members are Steve Gustafson, Jimmy Fordham, Gene McNeely, and Mark and Alan Henley. The Aeroshell Team has been performing for over 25 years, amassing thousands of hours in front of airshow fans all over the country.