50-Year-Old Flight Attendant Walks on Plane Wing in Mid-Air

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Feb. 5 2019, Updated 11:06 a.m. ET

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A United Airlines flight attendant just celebrated her 50th birthday by doing something you'd probably only see in a '90s action flick.

Usually whenever a story trends about an airline staff member, it's usually about something crummy they did. Or maybe it's a story about someone bringing an "emotional support" animal on board that is most definitely not an emotional support animal.

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Due to the high stress of air travel, working in that service industry isn't for everyone. Sure, you have the perk of reduced or free airfare for yourself and loved ones, but it's not like you get paid the big bucks, so if dealing with people at their worst, most annoying, and stinkiest isn't your strong suit, it's probably best to stay away from that line of work.

But, again, there are some big perks to the job worth taking advantage of. That's what Sabrina Swenson did when she decided to make the most out of her 50th birthday celebration, by crossing a terrifying but exhilarating item off her bucket list: walking on the wing of a plane mid-flight.

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united flight wing walking
Source: twitter

The flight attendant, who is based in Frankfurt, Germany, wrote about the experience leading up to the big event on United Airlines' blog, and here's the crazy part: she's walked on the wing of an airplane before. However, her first time was way different.

During this attempt, Swenson walked onto the plane's wing when it was already flying. The first time, she was strapped in before the aircraft ever took to the skies.

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When she discovered that there was an operation in Washington that would allow her to up the ante and train her to walk on the wing of a plane in flight, she knew that that's how she wanted to celebrate her first half-century of life:

"I knew I had to do it, and what better occasion than to celebrate my 50th birthday?"  

united flight wing walking
Source: united airlines blog
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After receiving her training at the Mason Wing Walking Academy in Sequim, Washington, Swenson was ready to go. In her blog post, Sweznson descrived the scary moment before she walked out on the wing:

"The Olympic Peninsula and the gorgeous Strait of Juan de Fuca, which separates Canada and the United States, is stunning. 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." 

She went on to say, "I left my seat and grabbed the two hand holds 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."

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united flight wing walking
Source: united airlines

While this feat isn't exactly the safest thing in the world to do, Swenson took all the necessary and proper safety precautions. She wore a security harness the entire time, which allowed her and the pilot to pull off some gravity-defying tricks.

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"After giving the thumbs up, the pilot proceeded to do aerobatics, including loops, barrel rolls and hammerheads. I hung on to the pole for the first loop, but after the first one was completed successfully, I threw caution to the wind and held out both arms! After enjoying the weightlessness of aerobatics, he eventually returned to straight flight so I could enjoy the view. He wagged the wings again, letting me know it was time to come back in. After slowly retreating to my seat, making sure I had three points of contact with the plane at all times, I buckled in once more."

As awesome as that looks, I think I'm good with never trying that for the rest of my life. My stomach's turning just thinking about it — but you go, Sabrina!

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