The man they call Douky is humming along happily right after he’s checked on me for the second time since we took off. “You ok, Abby?” he says into his microphone a smile in his voice. I’m sitting second seat of an L-39C Albatros, a Czech training jet designed in the late ‘60s, and trying not to accidentally touch anything in the cockpit while simultaneously remembering to breathe and tighten my stomach muscles to keep from passing out.
This small maneuverable jet can do upwards of 450 miles an hour and put pilots (and their planes) under 7 to 8Gs of longitudinal force. Today, Douky informs me, we’ll only pull four-and-a-half Gs, and our flight will last a little over half an hour. These are facts that I’d known before I arrived thanks to a little bit of digging, and they’d kept me up worrying the night before, hoping that I wouldn’t pass out or puke my guts out trying to fly with the Breitling Jet Team.