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One United Airlines flight attendant truly took a walk on the wild side in honor of her 50th birthday, exiting the aircraft of a small private plane for a special wing-walking stunt as the aircraft soared high above the Pacific Northwest.
When planning celebrations for her recent milestone birthday, Frankfurt, Germany-based United staffer Sabrina Swenson knew she wanted to commemorate the occasion in an epic way, as per a blog post from the carrier. Intrigued for many years by the idea of “wing-walking” – an aerial stunt when one moves onto the wings of an airplane as it flies through the high skies – Swenson traveled to Sequim, Washington, to make her dreams come true.
“Upon reaching the appropriate altitude and slowing down to just above a stall speed, the pilot wagged the wings, letting me know it was time to get out. I looked back to see him giving me the thumbs up,” the fearless flight attendant wrote in the United blog post.
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After receiving proper training at the Mason Wing Walking Academy, USA Today reports, Swenson and a pilot took off in a Boeing-Stearman biplane, floating over the Olympic Peninsula and Strait of Juan de Fuca.
“Upon reaching the appropriate altitude and slowing down to just above a stall speed, the pilot wagged the wings, letting me know it was time to get out. I looked back to see him giving me the thumbs up,” the fearless flight attendant wrote in the United blog post. “With that encouragement, I left my seat and grabbed the two handholds above me, fighting the wind the entire time.”
“I carefully made my way up between the cables above me to the pole on top of the plane. I leaned against it and buckled into the four-point harness."
“I carefully made my way up between the cables above me to the pole on top of the plane. I leaned against it and buckled into the four-point harness. After giving the thumbs up, the pilot proceeded to do aerobatics, including loops, barrel rolls and hammerheads,” she continued.
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Taking in the unbelievable scene, Swenson revealed that she “hung on to the pole for the first loop” but soon found the confidence to “[throw] caution to the wind and [hold] out both arms!”
Under supervision of the pilot, Swenson soon carefully made her way back to her seat, and buckled back in.
“You wouldn’t think wing walking is exhausting, but it is,” the birthday girl mused of her feat.
“You wouldn't think wing walking is exhausting, but it is,” the birthday girl mused of her feat. “People often ask if I was tethered to the plane. Yes, I was. I had a long cable attached to me and the strut of the plane at all times. However, it's imperative that you take the training seriously and are careful while moving around in the air.”
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“My time wing walking in beautiful Sequim will live on in my memory until my last day. You simply don't forget one of the best days of your life!” she concluded online.
Reps for the carrier soon shared Swenson’s tale to Twitter, where the story has since won applause.
“She was born to fly!!! Congrats!!!!” one fan wrote.
“That's actually pretty impressive….” another commenter agreed.
“Beats being stuck in the middle seat,” another quipped.
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