A few days ago, I climbed out of an 1940s era biplane mid-flight and gave the pilot the signal to do a series of acrobatic moves while I hung on. It was a surreal experience.
They call this "wing-walking" and it's pretty self-explanatory. While in the air, you climb out of the cockpit of an airplane and walk along its wings. And because that apparently doesn't sound exciting enough, you also hold on while the pilot does loops, barrel rolls and something called a "hammerhead." @cnntravel is producing a little documentary about my experience, so I'll hold off on sharing the video footage, but I wanted to share a few thoughts and photos ahead of time. First, this was, by a clear margin, one of the most exhilarating things I've ever done. Second, while in the air, I felt an incredible sense of gratitude for my life, and just life in general. Every breath up there felt precious, and I nearly wanted to cry trying to comprehend how I got to this point in my life where I'm lucky enough to be able to do some of the things I've done. Lastly, the reason I wanted to do this has nothing to do with thrill-seeking or risk. I really believe that you should try to the best of your abilities to go after the things you want to do. For me, I'm just a hyper curious person and knowing the sacrifices my parents made and continue to make to give me and my siblings the life we have, I don't want to waste any part of it not satisfying some of these curiosities and missing out on so many of the experiences that the world has to offer.
So what was wing-walking like? Making that deliberate decision to unbuckle my seatbelt and begin the climb out of the cocktail was by far and away the most worthwhile part of the whole thing. As soon as I put my left hand up to reach for the first hold, I felt the force of the 60 mph+ winds that I would be fighting against. I was so focused that I honestly had no time to be nervous or afraid. I never felt for a second that I would slip or fall off, so the real climb felt very similar to all my practice climbs while the plane was on the ground. A full write up will be on my site soon. #wingwalking