Kicking a game-winning field goal is an adrenaline rush for Dan Bailey, but those aren’t everyday occurrences.
So the Dallas Cowboys kicker has found another passion to fill the void in the offseason – flying airplanes.
"For me, getting up there and even being able to get off the ground for 15 minutes is good for my head, you know?" Bailey said. "You can kind of check out. Obviously you’re locked in and being safe, but nobody can do anything up there. You’re off the ground. You’re kind of in a whole different element so to speak."
Bailey, 30, bought his own plane this offseason and flies it "every day that I can." It’s a small, two-seater sport plane that is capable of doing aerobatics.
And, yes, Bailey "absolutely" likes doing things such as loops and aileron rolls.
"I love doing that kind of stuff," Bailey said. "It’s not a competition aerobatic plane, but it’s rated for most basic aerobatic maneuvers."
Safety is a priority for Bailey, of course. He doesn’t do anything too daredevil-esque.
Bailey understands the expertise required to do such a thing. The highlight of his offseason a few years ago was flying with the Navy’s famed Blue Angels at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida.
Bailey estimated the G-force at approximately 7.3 or 7.4 and reached supersonic speeds. He doesn’t have that capability with his own plane, but flying is something that goes to his family’s roots.
His grandpa served in the Navy and worked for General Dynamics, and his dad had a private pilot’s license. Now Bailey is following in his family’s footsteps by receiving his own pilot’s license this offseason.
"It’s more of a hobby than anything, but I do use it to travel shorter distances," Bailey said. "If I want to go see my family in Oklahoma, I’d rather fly because it takes me 45-50 minutes instead of 3 1/2 hours in the car.
"I got connected with a good group of guys at the airport I’m at, a lot of former military guys, and we all have a passion for it. We have fun. It’s kind of like you're at a country club or whatever. Everyone just sits around and flies planes and talks planes."
Bailey flies out of Northwest Regional Airport in Roanoke, not too far from his home in Flower Mound.
As stated, he takes shorter trips to destinations such as Oklahoma. He flew to Houston for a golf outing with a friend. He flies at an altitude ranging from 8,500 to 9,500 feet.
Bailey would like to fly himself to California at some point, but has yet to do that. Instead, he mostly just cruises in the air for now.
Bailey reached the 40-hour mark this offseason, which is required to receive a private pilot’s license. Next for Bailey to get more ratings such as the ability to carry passengers and flying through weather.
Asked if the long-term goal is to become Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones’ pilot once his playing days are over, Bailey smiled and said: "It seems like an all right gig, but he’s definitely a busy man so that’s a lot of hours."
For now, Bailey is just happy to get up in the air whenever possible. It’s a way for him to clear his mind.
As he posted a quote from famed space scientist Krafft A. Ehricke on his social media account, "Man's mind and spirit grow with the space in which they are allowed to operate."