Walking on the wing of an airplane racing at speeds between 80 and 140 mph seems um, oh, I don’t know. Risky, perhaps? Spectators heading out to the opens in a new window33rd Annual Florida International Air Show at the Punta Gorda Airport Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24, 2013, will be treated to the graceful performance of opens in a new windowwing walker Jane Wicker.
She Answered an Ad
Wicker began her wing walking career in 1990 when she answered an ad in the Washington Post for a wing walker to join the Flying Circus. She trained for a month – on the ground – before taking to the air. She’s been flying ever since.
Wing walking is a throwback to the 1920s, the Golden Era of Aviation, when the act was popular during opens in a new windowbarnstorming. It’s just not hanging onto a wing, it’s actually moving around the wing, as she demonstrated during a Florida International Air Show press conference conference. She’s not tied to anything nor does she wear a parachute, including during feats when the plane is plunging and she’s performing one heck of a balancing act.
It’s All in the Tread
In addition to staying fit and practicing, she relies on sneakers with a good grip. Surprisingly, she doesn’t have a deal with a shoe company (Nike? Reebok? Sketchers? Are you listening?), especially since there are relatively few women who engage in wing walking. Instead, she picks up her treads from discount retailers.
Also keeping her safe in the sky is her pilot who happens to be her ex-husband (I was told it’s an amicable relationship) and her plane, a 450 HP Stearman called “Aurora.”
View from Above
“You want to go up?” I was asked. No, this wasn’t an invitation to try wing walking but a chance to ride in the Wick’s Stearman biplane above Punta Gorda. Since Bill Gordon, who piloted today’s flight (and is not her ex-husband, he wasn’t available today) promised not to flip the plane upside down, I was game.
Does watching Jane make you nervous, I asked him.
“No,” he replied, adding she’s very good at what she does.
Soaring in a biplane reminiscent of a romantic era was another opportunity to take in Punta Gorda’s beauty. All that was missing was a white scarf. Yes, I was nervous a bit because it’s kind of like being in a flying convertible cruising at 80-some-miles-per-hour. I was safely buckled in and the pilot ensured a smooth and scenic ride.
As the wind whipped my hair around while soaring above Southwest Florida I gained a better appreciation for what Wicker is able to accomplish. Wind up there is powerful yet she’s able to work with it resulting in her breathtaking performances. I can’t wait for this weekend!
Florida International Air Show Nuts & Bolts
The Florida International Air Show features a collection of aerobatic performers, military aircraft, static displays, plane rides and plenty of food. (It’s always about food with me!) This year’s theme is “A Tribute to Veterans.” One of the returning displays is Disabled Americans Veterans‘ B-25 Mitchell Bomber Panchito. Be sure to opens in a new windowcheck out this post about the good DAV is doing for our veterans.
The show benefits dozens of Southwest Florida charities and raises more than $2.9 million for these organizations. Gates open at 9 a.m. both days (March 23 & 24, 2013)