Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Upon seeing the toy airplane I had worked so hard to get my photog Patrick and I aboard this morning, I immediately regretted my story pitch.

Imagine this: you're driving down I-75, and you see a cluster of state troopers a few miles up. You reduce your speed to 60mph, ten miles under the posted speed limit. You softly pass the state troopers, even contemplating a friendly wave. Just when you think you've made it past the hot zone, flashing lights in your rearview. You pull over, extremely confused at your alleged crime. The trooper hits you with a $250 speeding ticket, saying an AIRPLANE clocked you going 15 over.

Florida Highway Patrol uses airplanes to catch speeders on the road.
Basically an FHP pilot flies over a major state road like I-75, uses a stopwatch to clock drivers as they cross a series of lines, (determining their speed), then radios to troopers on the ground, who finish the job.

I thought it would be cool to get the pilot's perspective. So I made some calls and got Patrick and I aboard HP267.

"It's very windy up there," said our pilot, Sgt. Andy Foote as he was giving us the pre-flight briefing.

(Over spring break I went parasailing, so I figured parasailing, small plane, same thing.)

Foote had Patrick sitting in front, and me in the back.
"Here, take this, even though you probably wont need it," said Sergeant Foote, as he handed Patrick a small barf bag.

For the next thirty minutes, Patrick and I took turns filming. Sergeant Foote kept reminding us not to stare into the view finder for too long, saying we'd start feeling sick.

Foote had a good point, but I needed a shot of a car getting pulled over- a rather difficult task that required several takes.

After giving up on my money shot, I passed the camera up to Patrick. Nausea hit me like a mac truck. The feeling intensified. I started sweating profusely. HP267 started closing in!

I hit Patrick's arm, pointing toward his barf bag.
Patrick turns around and hands me the camera.

"No! THE BAG!" my sudden dramatic screech frightened both Patrick and Foote.

After coming back down to earth, I not only realized that I'll never make it as a pilot, but through Sergeant Foote's story, I saw how an extra set of eyes above the road, (and a barf bag) can be good things.

Click here to watch my story

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