(June 12, 2015) Lt. Col. John Klatt will be doing barrel rolls, stalls, loops and assorted other aerodynamically challenging actions over the beach this weekend in this year’s edition of the Ocean City Air Show.
The difference between what he will do then and what he did in a short run Wednesday morning, however, is that I won’t be riding with him.
Not that I wouldn’t, given the opportunity, despite being deathly afraid of roller coasters and just about any other mechanically driven method of flirting with the laws of gravity.
Still, flying upside down at more than 200 miles an hour and wondering why you and your stomach seem to have parted company is one of those lifetime experiences.
Aboard his Air National Guard Extra 300L, we did multiple barrel rolls in a row with incredible upside down views of the Ocean City beach and Boardwalk.
It only lasted about 20 minutes before we headed back to the Ocean City Municipal Airport, where Klatt said his performance this weekend will be 100 times more intense.
That I could only attempt to imagine I as I sat there profusely sweating and shaking after landing.
“I have been flying my whole adult life and these air shows are an extension of all my life experiences,” Klatt said.
His father was an aviation mechanic and Klatt knew at 10-years-old that flying was his passion. By 17, he was taking flying lessons and he earned his pilot license before graduating college.
After joining the Air National Guard, he was deployed to Iraq three times as a fighter pilot. In addition, he flew an F-16 ‘Fighting Falcon’ on numerous air support missions over Washington D.C. and New York City in the days following 9/11.
“The National Guard has been a great opportunity and helped me learn to fly,” Klatt said. “The air shows are a culmination of all my life experiences.”
To date, Klatt has logged more than 15,000 hours of flight time including humanitarian missions, during combat and as a professional air show performer for the past 15 years.
During the Air Show this weekend, Klatt will fly the Air National Guard MX-S, which is a carbon fiber aircraft that can do 250 miles per hour with its 360 horsepower engine.
“Audiences will see hardcore, unlimited aerobatics at the show this weekend and it’s going to be special,” Klatt said. “This year is going to be huge with some of the best names in the business and I am excited to be a part of it.”
Klatt has flown in a couple of the Ocean City Air Shows in the past.
“We really like coming out here. They put on a great show and it’s in a perfect location,” he added.
This year, the Air National Guard will be taking over social media with what they hope will be a live broadcast from the cockpit if cellphone coverage works out.
“We are trying to have a live broadcast from the cockpit over the Internet so people on the beach can watch me flying in the air and inside the aircraft,” Klatt said. “We’re really excited about it. Check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get more details, we would love to interact with you.”
After Ocean City’s Air Show, Klatt will visit 13 additional cities in 2015 to amaze audiences. This audience of one already stands amazed.