Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, participated in a rather unique experience on Tuesday when he flew some fighter jets as part of a Ford Racing Sweepstakes promotion called "Carl's Thrill Ride." Brian Wright, a...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, participated in a rather unique experience on Tuesday when he flew some fighter jets as part of a Ford Racing Sweepstakes promotion called "Carl's Thrill Ride."
Brian Wright, a 34-year-old project manager for Bank of America in Charlotte, was the winner who got to fly over the Mojave desert and fight Edwards in a series of mock dogfighting maneuvers. Edwards and Wright spoke about the experience on Wednesday.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE? "It was just a lot of fun meeting Carl and all the Ford Racing folks that were out there. We just kind of jumped in some jets and flew out in the Mojave desert. W were paired up with some great fighter pilots that took us up there and showed us a lot of moves, and we got to do some moves and did a little dogfighting and had a blast. It was just unbelievable. It was an amazing experience."
HOW DID YOU ENTER THIS FORD CONTEST? "I think I was on Ford.com and was shopping for some cars and saw the Carl Edwards contest and just signed up. I was pretty excited when they let me know I'd won. I just couldn't believe it."
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE THRILL RIDE. "It was amazing. I had a really good time. It's just like Brian said, we got out there and met the pilots and took off in these planes and flew out to the Mojave desert. We went up a few times and learned a lot of stuff. The dogfighting part was really neat. It was really just a neat experience. It's something that's kind of one of those once in a lifetime deals and I'm just glad that I got to be a part of it."
HOW DID YOU FIND OUT YOU WON? DID YOU KIND OF THINK IT WAS A JOKE? "Exactly. I got the phone call and it was like, 'Is this for real?' I don't think I really believed it until all the paperwork showed up and you're signing all these releases because you're about to jump in a couple of jets. My family and everybody, they were really excited. They put me on the prayer list at my church, so it was pretty amazing. It was unbelievable."
WAS THERE ONE THING THAT STANDS OUT? "Just the planes themselves are so amazing, just the amount of skill and expertise that goes into f lying one of these jets. You just don't really realize it until you're sitting in it and flying over the desert. A lot goes into it and these planes are so agile, they can move on a dime. In one second you're flying upside down and doing barrel rolls. Carl and I raced around a track and spun out in a bunch of barrel rolls. It's just amazing what these planes can do."
DID YOU GET TO TOUCH THE CONTROLS AND ACTUALLY FLY THE PLANES? "Yeah, they let us fly a lot. It was really neat. They showed us a lot of things and then they kind of demonstrated how to initiate an air combat maneuver, where you have one guy who is the aggressor and one guy who is the defender. They kind of showed us how to start that and then just let us go at it. They kind of helped you and told you what you needed to do and kept you out of trouble, but essentially you could do whatever you wanted to do. It was pretty crazy."
DID THEY WARN YOU ABOUT STALLING? "Yeah, they'd keep you from getting the air speed too low. They would let you know if you needed to point the nose down or whatever, but I think they did a really good job of allowing you a lot of freedom. It was neat. It was different than I expected. I didn't expect them to let us do so much."
DID YOU NEED THE STOMACH DISTRESS BAG AT ALL? "Yeah. I think it was the third or fourth flight. We were doing these quick motions and that kind of set me off. It was good. Once it was over I felt a lot better and we kept going, so it was good."
DID YOU KNOW CARL LIKES TO FLY HIS OWN PLANE? "Yeah, I was a little nervous because I sit behind a desk most days and that was going to be a challenge, but we had a good time with it. Carl was a good sport."
DID YOU GUYS FIGHT AGAINST EACH OTHER AND WHO WON? "We both kind of played different roles, so we just kind of flew around."
ON THE DOGFIGHTING ASPECT OF THE FLIGHT. "We did probably six or more engagements. Sometimes in a couple of them Brian lined up behind me and would have killed me and in a couple of them I got him."
WHERE DOES YOUR PASSION FOR FLYING COME FROM? "When I was a real little kid I became fascinated with airplanes. I went and got my pilot's license when I was in high school. I was in the civil air patrol when I was a kid. I thought the military would have been a really good option for me. If racing didn't take off, that was my plan."