PHOTOS | HELEANA GENAUS
Gravity sucks. Defying it is A W E S O M E!
Spending an afternoon with upcoming Petrolette Cass Moeller, I was so lucky to be able to gain an insight into what it takes to run an aerobatics school... and what it's like to have a fly. Cass gave me warning that she was going to take me up when we scheduled our time together. Needless to say I was pretty excited... but full of questions. I think I asked her if it was normal for people to soil themselves during the flight. She laughed and confirmed that had never happened to the best of her knowledge (which is extensive) but I was still worried about what my bodily functions would do when subjected to positive and negative G-forces. But hey? Who cares if I involuntarily poop or puke... I was getting to fly!!
When she tried to explain what the experience is like, the best likeness she can come up with is a roller coaster, but having now experienced an aerobatics flight, the only resemblance is the momentary free fall feeling and upside down-ness. But it's actually nothing like it, and there is nothing else I can think of that bears any resemblance to aerobatics.
The Australian Aerobatic Academy was established by Cass and her husband Peter in 2007, both competing in national aerobatics comps and absolutely in love with the craft. Based in a shared hanger at Sydney's Bankstown Airport, they have a very chilled out, village-like community amongst their students and other operators at the airport, where they offer joy-flights and instructor sessions for anyone up for it.
Cass and Peter are full of life. When you consider that they get to fly-by-attitude (as opposed to fly-by-instrument as per most commercial passenger planes) up to five times a day with their students and thrill seekers, it's really no surprise. Hanging out with them, before and after the flight, I felt like I'd known them forever and already a part of the family, welcome back anytime. They really can't share their love for aerobatics with enough people and get a thrill out of showing others the sky.
So... back to my flight. The g-forces were something to get used to, but I was so distracted by the sky and air and the fact that I was in this beautiful plane I didn't really have enough time to notice... or catch my breath! Cass pushed me (so she says... probably to make me feel better about grey-ing out on her final vertical) and I hadn't eaten lunch (not a good idea) which meant I needed a bit of time laying on the tarmac to allow the blood back to my extremities afterward... all the while randomly spitting out "that was awesome!" like I had tourettes syndrome. It was so much fun and I'd do it again right now!
I was also sad to leave them at the end of the day. Watching the sun set over the air strip as all the small planes and helicopters came in for the day was akin to a small country town closing up for the evening. Peaceful with a hum of possibility of being in the air again the next day.
Heleana is a force of nature. The founder of In Venus Veritas and The Petrolette, and a co-founder of Rising Sun Workshop. Heleana shares her love of vintage cars, riding motorcycles, and (not-so-secretly) dreams of flying planes and piloting a riva aquariva (a la Sophia Loren) very fast through the canals of Venice. Supportive and connected, community is her lifeblood, and she is as real as they come.