BY CASEY WATTS

The spirits of aerobatic and tailwheel instructor Andrew Martin remain high — sky high. Even when gravity makes it feel as if a 600-pound person is sitting on him as he does his stunts. Even when one Western Michigan University student threw up after a lesson. Even when another WMU student threw up after a lesson. 

Martin, a flight instructor at WMU’s College of Aviation, has a lot of fun instructing students in the Super Decathlon plane. The plane is capable of diving, spinning and doing loops. It’s unlike any other plane WMU owns, Martin said.

“You get a pretty big smile on your face when you get to go upside down for work at 6,000 feet,” he said.

However, this plane instigates both good and bad feelings. When pulling aerobatic stunts, the pilot and instructor feels forces equal to three times that of gravity. So, if the pilot is 150 pounds, it can sometimes feel like a person weighing 600 or 700 pounds is sitting on top of them, Martin explained.

So far, Martin has taken about 25 WMU students in the Super Decathlon plane. Students like the experience because it’s something most pilots think about doing, but don’t always get to do.

“It’s like a rollercoaster that you’re in control of,” Martin said. “There’s been a couple flights around sunset where you flip upside down and you’re watching the sunset in front of you. It’s a pretty neat experience.”

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