Elite Series angler Marty Stone has always said he wanted to do three things before he dies — drive a NASCAR stock car, train with the U.S. Army Special Forces and ride in a fighter plane. The NASCAR gig is behind him and the Special Forces training has to wait until "I get in better shape," he says.The plane ride, however, is almost a reality.
In this two-part series we'll look at Stone's ride. First, we'll examine how it came to be and the preparations necessary for such an experience. In the second part, we'll see how everything went after the ride.Part 1: How it all came to be
"I met Major Fritz Boudreaux at the 2006 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Toho. He came up and thanked me for some of the things I've done with the Army — things like helping with their tournaments. We've kept in touch since then.
"One day we were talking and I said, 'I've got three things in my life I want to do. I want to drive a NASCAR stock car, I want to fly with a fighter pilot and I want to train with the U.S. Army Special Forces. I told him I'd done the Richard Petty Driving Experience. He said, 'I think I can take care of the next one.' He's worked relentlessly for the past four months. It looks like it's going to happen."But before Stone's flight in a U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle on October 29, he must pass several training exams, physical and mental."Major Boudreaux will be coming to my house on the 27th and staying with us all night. We'll leave early in the morning on the 28th for the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base here in North Carolina. Once there, I'll have to pass a physical and take ejection seat training as well as work on my parachute skills. You know, they do that just in case....
"I won't be allowed to leave the base until after my flight the next day. I really don't know why they're locking me up except that maybe it's to keep me from going chicken on them. That would be embarrassing all the way around," he laughed.Assuming he doesn't "go chicken," Stone's flight will be recorded by BASS with an in-cockpit camera.
"I want to go as fast as it can go, I want to go as high as it can go, I want to go as low as it can go, and I want to spin around and around. What have I got to lose? I'm going to be up there one time, and if I get sick on camera, big deal. I went up, nobody else did."And, I'm really not worried about something going wrong. If it does, it does. Besides, my life insurance premiums are current and the beneficiary is correct. My wife checked on that for me just the other day!"