Audrey Dwyer: Gaining perspective |

Audrey Dwyer: Gaining perspective

Whatever thoughts or preconceived notions that might have been going through my head, they were instantly silenced as swiftly as the parachute synced and the five-point seatbelt locked.

On Friday afternoon, thousands of feet off the ground, I gained a bit of perspective.

A few perspectives, actually, thanks to my pilot for the afternoon, Barry Hancock, who took me up in his North American T-6, World War II-era trainer.

Up there, any preconceived notions, worries or fears of possibly losing my lunch deteriorated with the surrounding clouds. The vastness of the valley below left me speechless, and all I could do was grin from ear to ear.

He conducted the wingovers, rolls and overhead breaks with ease. The ground and the sky flip-flopped, and it was then I realized why he loves this job.

"I still learn something new every time I fly," Hancock said.

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If you were looking up at the sky about 1 p.m. Friday, you may have seen his yellow BH-388 T-6; I happened to be flying it – briefly, of course.

Hancock’s mission for this weekend’s Wild West Air Fest and Air Show — and a major piece of why he flies at all — is to “honor the past and inspire the future” as a tribute to military veterans. He grew up watching  jet fighters zoom across the sky from his backyard, dreaming of becoming a pilot himself.

You can catch the show from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at Bob Adams Airport.

Putting my trust in Hancock was not difficult, given his background in warbirds and aviation and nearly 3,500 hours of flight experience. Not only that, he is an active aerobatic competitor in the Pitts S2C and a formation instructor pilot who opened his own flight training school in Utah.

Hancock said this model boasts the single longest military service history of any plane in aviation history but, it can be a bit of a handful, because it's challenging to maneuver.

"I love keeping that history alive," he said. "Flying aerobatics is a free form expression, on the one hand, but a very strict discipline on the other. This is serious stuff, and you have to do it right, because it is dangerous, but there's an incredible sense of accomplishment."