“It was insane,” the Puyallup 15-year-old said. Watch the video.
Stunt pilot Sean Tucker asks his young passenger if he’s ready for the ride of his life as they taxi down the runway at Boeing Field.
“Yes, sir!” replies 15-year-old Carson Lobdell, who is seated beneath the transparent cockpit canopy in front of the veteran pilot.
“Here we go, baby,” says Tucker, and the two-seat Oracle Extra 300 L plane launches into the sky.
I-90 closures for Blue Angels
The Blue Angels are back this year at Seafair, which means the Interstate 90 bridge will be closed 11:50 a.m.-2:40 p.m. Saturday-Sunday while the elite Navy pilots practice and perform their air show over and around Lake Washington.
The bridge high-rises will still be accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.
On the Thursday before Seafair, Carson Lobdell, a sophomore at Tukwila’s Raisbeck Aviation High School, flew with Tucker as part of a “Young Eagles” program aimed at giving kids between 8 and 17 an introduction to the world of flight.
But Tucker doesn’t just fly — he “dances.”
Tucker, 63, has been flying acrobatically for nearly 40 years, and is hailed as one of the best stunt pilots in the world.
At air shows across the country, Tucker flies his specially engineered single-engine plane, the Oracle III, performing complicated tricks and turns. More than half his maneuvers have never been attempted by another pilot, according to his sponsor, the computer technology corporation Oracle.
“It was insane,” Lobdell said of the flight once he was back on the ground. “I couldn’t have imagined anything better.”
The flight took the pair from Boeing Field to directly over Safeco and CenturyLink fields, people below looking like tiny flecks of colored confetti. As the Oracle III approached the Space Needle, out in the distance the San Juan Islands and Canadian coastal range stretch to the horizon in a bumpy blanket of land and sea.
Tucker started a gentle “waltz,” rolling the plane gently a few times before pulling up into a graceful loop far above Puget Sound.
Then it was Lobdell’s turn. Tucker instructed him to use the controls in front of him to hold the nose toward the horizon. The teen then tipped it up slightly and broke hard to the side for a barrel roll, and navigated his way through tricks and turns high over the waters of Puget Sound.
Time: 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday
Events: Hydroplane races will be on the water and Blue Angels in the air around Genesee Park throughout the weekend. The full schedule can be found at www.seafair.com/p/about/seafair-weekend/255. The park will have other activities like a Kids Zone, hydroplane display and drivers autograph booth, military village, a cooking stage, food court and three beer, wine and spirits gardens.
Cost:adults $30/advance, $35 at the gate; seniors and ages 6-12 $10/advance, $15/at the gate; ages 5 and younger free; $45/reserved grandstand Saturday, Sunday; $10/day Pit Pass and tour
Location: Genesee Park, 4316 S. Genesee St., Seattle
More info: 206-728-0123 or seafair.com
Jet Blast Bash at Museum of Flight
Time: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Cost: $12-$20; ages 4 and younger free
Location: Museum of Flight, 9404 E. Marginal Way, Seattle
More info: 206-764-5700 or museumofflight.org
A short time later, the brightly painted red and white plane was back on the runway at Boeing Field.
When Lobdell found out he’d won the opportunity to fly with Tucker, he was ecstatic.
“People know a lot about aviation and are always talking about it, so I’d heard of him before,” Lobdell said about Tucker. “I was very, very excited.”
Lobdell has wanted to be a pilot since he was 11, in part because his father worked on A-6 Intruder jets while he was in the Marine Corps. In eighth grade, Lobdell was online looking for flying lessons when he came across the Raisbeck school in Tukwila, his mother Amy recalled.
A year later, the Puyallup home-schooler was one of 50 Raisbeck students from outside the Highline School District.
“Just to feel those G-forces while you’re coming out of them — there’s nothing better than that,” Lobdell said. “It was an amazing experience.”