In preparation for local event, Red Bull actually gave me wings

By William Midkiff

If you ever find yourself in a scenario similar to mine a few weeks ago — receiving an email asking if I’d like to fly in an aerobatic airplane with a professional Red Bull pilot — you should immediately accept. And then you should read this article, because I’m about to tell you what to expect.

The day of the flight, about half an hour before takeoff, your pilot will hold a briefing to tell you all about the plane, how it works and what you’ll be expected to do during the flight. Flying in an aerobatic plane is much more engaging than flying commercial, because let’s face it — Delta won’t be pulling any loop-de-loops.

An aerobatic plane is much smaller than a commercial plane and is capable of performing a variety of stunning maneuvers like barrel rolls, nosedives, inverted flight and more. As Kevin Coleman, Louisiana Tech alumnus and my pilot for the day, put it, “Basically, this airplane will do everything you think an airplane should not do or cannot do.”

After the safety briefing, Kevin told me about what it’s like to do what he does for a living.

“Being an aerobatic pilot, flying air shows professionally, is all I’ve wanted to do since I was 3 years old,” he said. “I’ve had a Plan A—I’ve never had a Plan B.”

Kevin also told me all about the plane we’d be flying, and let me know that he got it when he was only 17. Now, this may seem young to us, but at 17, he had already been practicing aerobatic flight for seven years. It’s safe to say that if anyone is going to fly you upside-down, thousands of feet above the planet, it should be this guy.

Then, equipped with all the knowledge I needed and all the nerves I didn’t, Kevin strapped me in for takeoff. The engine revved up, Kevin tested the headsets, we performed a few more safety tests —  and then we were off!

The flight was absolutely breathtaking. The moments in which we were just cruising were serene, gliding high above Ruston. But once Kevin began an aerobatic maneuver, I suddenly felt as if I was on the most adrenaline-fueled rollercoaster of my life. Then, just as quickly as it began, the maneuver ended, and we were coasting once again.

The tricks got crazier and, as Kevin put it, “more aggressive” as the flight went on. He checked up on me periodically, but I was always down to keep the intensity high.

The flight lasted 10 minutes, but it all went by in a blur. Soon, we were back on the ground, and I was still trying to process how I survived! I had sustained over 10 g-forces during the most intense moments of the flight.

But would I do it again? In a heartbeat. If you ever get a chance to experience something similar to this, I’d highly recommend that you go for it! Trust in the professionals, and you will have an absolute blast.

Red Bull set up this particular flight to promote an upcoming event that will be held March 15 at Louisiana Tech. The event, called Paper Wings, is an annual paper airplane folding and flying competition to find the world’s best paper plane engineer. Competitions are held globally until one world champion is crowned!

Kevin explained to me that this event is very in-line with Red Bull’s roots.

“The owner of Red Bull is a pilot himself, and his son is a pilot,” he said. “So Red Bull is really big in the aviation world and big in the aerobatic world.”

Kevin said he is also excited that the event will be coming to his alma mater.

“We’ve been all over already, to different colleges in the United States promoting this stuff, and it’s cool that Louisiana Tech got one,” he said. “So I’m super excited for Ruston, and I’m super excited for the Louisiana Tech students.”

If you’re looking to compete in the Paper Wings competition yourself, you can register online at This event will be held at 2 p.m. March 15 at Louisiana Tech’s Flight Operation Hangar. 

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