CINCINNATI — Sidney native Kris Nuss, now of Cincinnati, has made something of a career of participating in dare devil stunts during the Vectren Dayton Air Show.
A journalist for Cincinnati’s Fox 19 television station, Nuss has gone wing-walking on a bi-plane and helicoptering with the Sky Soldiers at previous air shows.
This year, she circled Dayton in a B-25 bomber, survived the smoke-filled cabin of a 1943 transport plane and did aeronautic maneuvers with ace trick pilot Sean Tucker. The air show was at the Dayton International Airport in Vandalia, June 20-21.
She had planned to go up with the Golden Knights to see parachuting from the top down, but that act was rained out. She did, however, get to visit with the fliers.
“Hanging out in small planes with a bunch of men is pretty nice. If you have to get rained out, that’s the way to do it,” Nuss said by phone, Monday.
The bomber, a B-25 Mitchell, is owned by the Disabled American Veterans.
“When they were revving up the engines, it would bounce. It was like a living, breathing thing, ready to take off,” Nuss said.
While she was aloft, she wiggled her way into the nose section of the plane.
“You had to go through a small tunnel. You lay on your back and used rods to pull yourself to the nose. The view is wonderful. There are guns up there, but you shouldn’t touch them,” she said.
Flying with Matt Youkin in his twin-engine Beech, Nuss and three fellow reporters learned that the plane has a mode, “smoke on,” which causes a parafin-based oil to burn. The burning leaves a smoke trail that allows spectators to easily see the path of a maneuver. When Youkin went “smoke on” with the reporters on board, smoke filled the cockpit and then began to leak into the cabin. Youkin put duct tape over cracks in the cockpit windows to keep the smoke out.
“Matt had a wonderful drawl,” Nuss said. “He had lost his dad and a sister in separate air shows. His advice: ‘Life’s an adventure. You’re going to have ups and downs. You don’t have a choice. There are so many highs in life, you don’t focus on the lows.’”
The greatest high this year for Nuss was her ride with Tucker. To stomach the loops and rolls she knew she would be doing with him, Nuss had Dramamine for breakfast. She also strapped into a parachute before the plane took off.
Tucker’s Oracle Extra 300L had a good take-off, with a chase plane near-by. The rainy weekend had brought dense clouds over the airport, but they didn’t stop a pilot who is in the National Aviation Hall of Fame and has been named on the 25 Living Legends of Flight by the Smithsonial National Air and Space Museum.
“We jumped on top of those ugly clouds and it was the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen: blue sky and white, puffy clouds,” Nuss said. It’s a wild experience to go through a cloud.”
Tucker completed a loop up, around and under the chase plane, before the latter flew off.
“The most fun maneuver,” Nuss said, “was, we went vertical, straight up into the sky. Planes don’t like to go straight up forever, so we fell back. We rolled over and dove down. The we flew upside down. That was fun. There were lovely farm fields below us. Hanging upside down in flight really isn’t that scary. (Tucker) showed me a new way to look at the world and to experience the world. It was breathtaking in a good way.”
Nuss said she was never frightened and she would “absolutely” go up with Tucker again, given the opportunity.
“I hope my ride to heaven is like that flight,” she said.