Riding An Aerobatics Helicopter

By: Diane Ako

KANEOHE BAY (KHNL) - One of the performers at the Blues on the Bay pilots an aerobatics helicopter. It's one of two in the nation - both owned by Red Bull Energy Drink - that can do stunts normally reserved for fixed wing aircraft. I took a ride in it this week.

This BO-105 chopper is specially modified for flying upside down. And if the stunts look impressive from the outside, check it out from my point of view! Pilot Chuck Aaron can do over a dozen loops and rolls.

Aaron is the first pilot in the US to be FAA certified for chopper stunts. Aarons says, "Noone else has ever done it and it's fun to do. I've been flying for 35 years. I got 18,000 hours and still love to fly. I've been very fortunate and not crashed anything yet! I practice all the time; 3-4 times a week."

How do people react on their first ride? "They either love it or hate it," Aaron says. I loved it but got queasy after 6 rolls, partly because I was looking through the camera's viewfinder during the stunts. Note to self: that gets you airsick.

It felt like a roller coaster ride, and Aaron estimates we pulled a couple of G's. I had not seen the chopper doing the stunts before taking the ride, and upon seeing the footage after, I was surprised at how big the loops are. It didn't feel that way while in the cockpit. It felt like small, tight rolls.

Is it weird to see earth and sky jumbled all around? For me, it wasn't scary, it was fun. And if I didn't get so nauseous I would have asked him to keep going. My ride lasted about 20 minutes from takeoff to landing.

And just in case you were tempted to try this at home, Aaron warns, "No other helicopter and do this and I don't want any other helicopter to try it."

You have one more day to see Blues on the Bay. The free air show runs from 9-5 Sunday.