Why I Fly (long)


I post this to remind my fellow pilots why we fly and for those that wonder why we pilots do indeed fly.


You know, this may come across drippy sweet, but who cares…

This past week has been such a rewarding time in my little part of the aviation world.

The selfish part…

When I preflight, I hope people see me.
When I slowly trundle down the taxiway for departure, I hope people see me.
When I make my call up on the radio, I hope people hear me in the FBO.
When I lift off in the blue wild yonder, I hope people driving along the road at the end of the runway see me.
When I am enroute, I hope people see me when they look up
When I am on final, I hope people look up from a subdivision and see me
When I tie down, I hope people see me.

Now you may ask, just why I hope such things. I am privileged to be a part of an elite group that can do something just short of supernatural.

We weren’t built to fly folks, and that itself is an amazing accomplishment, that we were given the rights to share what nature does naturally.

So, my selfish self hopes that the people that sees me do the so called mundane things of aviation wondering just where am I going, envious that I am doing something that they wish they can do.

It’s truly magic to see the edge of earth on severe clear days.
It’s truly magic to have the privilege of floating along at 110 knots 7,500 feet above a broken cloud deck.
It’s truly magic to enter IMC from above, sunny as can be to descend down to 200 AGL, break out to a runway lined up below me, with dreary, rainy conditions.
It’s truly magic on night flights to see more lights in the sky then on the ground.

Now, don’t get me wrong I am really not that selfish, and my reason for loving to fly IS FOR MY UNSELFISH PART OF ME AS I AM LEARNING THIS PAST WEEK.

The Unselfish part of me…

I was out this past week at the airport, needing to get night current. I do my jig, fly out to the wild blue yonder, watch ole sol set below the horizon from front rows seats at 3500 feet, and when the ball of fire sank below the horizon, I returned back to the airport and did my touch and goes, stop and goes and so forth. I tie down the plane and await my ride from the airport (My wife went to church probably to pray for me) big smile.

So, here I am waiting. and this elderly gentleman came walking up to visit. I learned he takes a walk around the ramp every day, 2 times a day. Got to chatting with him, he learns I fly, and owns a plane. He asked me which one, and I point it out to him. I asked if he wanted to peek inside, and this was like lighting a fire under him.

We walk out, I open the door, and he climbs in with no assistance. We sit in the plane, I ask if he flew, which he did his first flight in a J2 Cub IN 1939. Compared to what he started with, my instrument panel must have looked like an airliner panel. I could tell, just by sitting in this plane with a man I never met, that I have touched a part of him, as watching him from the soft glow of the flashlight, he was re-living his flying days from the J2 Cub to a B52 bomber.

He just sat there, like he was home…

I was in no hurry to move along, as I could see his eyes light up. He was very computer literate, and had never seen a panel mounted GPS, so when I put on the avionics, it just incredulized him on how much aviation has progressed. We sat in my plane for about 45 minutes flying higher then the plane’s capability and we never left the ground.

My wife pulls up to the plane in her car, and the gentleman needed a little assistance getting out of the plane. Being a low wing, it’s fully understandable considering your feet are lower then the wing and pulling one’s self up would be difficult. Once up, he got off the wing without assistance.

Why I make such big ado, is that this gentleman was 87 years old!!!

He stopped flying 10 years ago due to his eyesight. Could have fooled me, as he sure moved around without eyeglasses and had no problem seeing at night that I could see!

Unfriggin believable… I hope I have 1/10 his spunk at 67 years old much less at 87!!!

Continuing on… fast forward to our next generation. Had a great opportunity to share more aviation with our younger ones. Friend of mine called me up and said would I want to fly to Cleveland MS for a $100 hamburger. I would meet him at his local airport, he would rent a plane and we would fly in tandem. He had two daughters, one would ride up with him, and the other would ride with me, and we would reverse them on the trip home.

Now, don’t get me wrong, kids are not interested in preflight, they are not interested in the mechanics of flight, as in today’s generation, it’s just another form of transportation.

But they are fascinated with interacting with the airplane when put to the task. I went over the basics of the controls previously, and showed them the “important” instruments, and they knew when I said their control, they take over. Well…

Imagine climbing out at 1000 feet, saying to a young one, your controls, and their eyes light up like beacons in the night. I told both of the young ones, that once I give them the controls, they are to take me to the destination airport as I gave them all the tools they needed.

Imagine their looks as we climb through a scattered strato cumulus cloud deck up to 7,500 and break out of the haze at 6,500 to the deepest blue skies God could paint.

Imagine their reactions as we pass over the cloud deck, with the tops zipping by like there is not a care in the world.

Imagine their reactions as we slalom around the clouds to maintain VFR flight rules on our descent to terra firma

Flight quality, suffice it to say, we didn’t make it to our destination in breakneck speed, we didn’t maintain PTS standards in headings on the climb, but did I care, nope, not at all, just wanted the kids to interact with the plane on their level, just wanted them to enjoy having the ability to have control of something in their lives.

We level off to flight altitude, I would help trim the plane, and they still had to navigate to the airport and to up the anti, I would have them find the airport and fly to their “perceived airport”.

Just watching them interact, encouraging them, it’s ok to look out the window…

What I hope we all can do…

Taking from a movie title “Pay it Forward”…

We “Pay it Forward” to our younger generation, and “pay it back” to our older generation.

We owe to ourselves and those around us…

We are very privileged people in our corner of the world, and we cannot forget that as long as we are on the topside of where the green grass grows!



As they say in OZ, Good on ya’ Allen!



As a CFI I had the opportunity to introduce landlubbers to the wonders of the sky on many occasions. Many people I flew with for skyrides and intro flight had never been in a small airplane, and some had never been in ANY airplane. I loved to see the look on their faces, young and old, when we first lifted off the runway.
Once we got settled into level flight at 1500 or so I’d tell them a few second’s worth of instructions about how to fly and then tell them they had the controls. Some would look at me wondering if I was serious and I’d say “well I’m not flying!” and let go of the controls. Some would just flat-out refuse to fly, which I never understood.
I’d take students up in the late evening when the sun was setting. I’d take the controls as the sun was setting, I’d start a slow decent while the sun slipped below the horizon and then once it did I’d pull the plane back up into the most aggressive climb it could handle, and once we’d leveled out we’d see the sun back up, only to watch it set again! Two sunsets in one day!

I love when I go flying on a crappy day. Take off into low ceilings, fly for an hour or so in the milky nothingness, decend in the clouds and break out at 200ft lined up on a runway hundreds of miles away. It’s amazing


Kewl. How much altitude did you have to regain?

One even better. Low stratiform clouds producing a dreary drizzle / light rain, only to break out to a brilliant sun above. I have taken two people on seperate occaisions and their reactions breaking out on top were priceless. One actually got mad at me in a good sense as he forgot his sunnies. 8)

I like you, love IMC as it’s really magical to be able to navigate by instruments. Also to be inside a complex process in the precipitation department always fascinates me

I was so glad I had an instructor not afraid of minimums :smiley:



A gain of 1000ft or so is enough and long as it’s done fast enough (gotta gain a bit of speed on the descent to make the climb quickly.)

I agree with the breaking out on top thing. I wrote on here a while back that it’s one of my other favorite things, walking out to the airplane in nasty cold rain with sunglasses on my head…and hoping people see me!


Ahhh ha, so there is a practical reason for chandelles!!!

Just head east to view west.



Practical? Not really, fun? Yup!
Just like spins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybznDrT2_Yg)


Practical? Not really, fun? Yup!
Just like spins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybznDrT2_Yg)

I’d say real nice recovery :smiley:



A Dream to Fly

It’s in your blood; you don’t know why
Just one goal; you’ve got to fly

To feel your craft; take to flight
It’s been your dream; 'most every night

Then it came; your first flight
You spread your wings; it sure felt right

Above the ground, so high and free;
You could only think, it’s meant to be

Ground school, flight school; summer and fall
So many lessons; to learn it all

Stalls and spins; and the lazy eight
You love to fly; but these you hate

Private, commercial; then ATP
A lot of work; you’ll come to see

To build up time; you must agree
You’d fly anything; you’d fly for free

Snow streaks by, in your lights;
What a show, this cold winter night

Rain at the airport; dark and cold
Break out on top; a sight to behold

Cloud gives way; the storm is past
The air is smooth; your plane is fast

See the mountains; and oceans too
So many places; you’ll pass through

Slice through clouds; on silver wings
So magnificent; to see these things

Props and jets; big and small
Coast to coast; you’ll see it all

It’s in your blood; you don’t know why
You just can’t stop; you’ve got to fly




I can relate to this story…

My ex-wife’s grandfather was in charge of all the fittings on the Spirit of St. Louis, taught air corps cadets during WWII, and retired from flying after that.

I used to take him up in my 172 when I was a young pilot…a 20something kid with an 80something y/o man sitting left seat as the “student”.

Our last flights together came when he was in his late 80’s and could still fly the airplane when he didn’t have his head out the window (he had as much interest in geology as flying).

My ex’s father was an aerospace engineer at GDynamics for years, and my flying partner (still) for 25 years.

He’s been the first passenger on all my first flights as I upgraded airplanes over the years.

I had the opportunity this last weekend to go the other direction also.

A older man was walking his young grandson around the ramp looking at all the airplanes as I was preflighting my 340.

I invited them inside to have the kid sit in the left seat and explained everything to him.

This sort of thing happens frequently on nice, sunny days and I always take the opportunity to “share” what I have with others who aren’t as blessed as I’ve been in life to have something like I’ve got.


Sometimes a picture / video speaks a 1000 words. Thought this video I compiled would help remind us why we fly. :slight_smile:


Right click the link and save it locally for it to play better. (35 meg)



Hhhhhmmmm, is your Sundowner certified for known icing conditions? :wink:

(Check at about 52 seconds into the video).


Looks like water to me. Besides, it’s only “known” after you fly through it!


CFIJames is spot on. That was water. That flight, I was around 6000 on a hot summer day. As you may know, clouds have bigger droplets at the top level so I’d break out of IMC with droplets running up the windscreen. That must have been residue moisture from a prior encounter with IMC

My closest and only encounter with ice was on a stratiform day where it amazed me how quickly trace icing can build just from skimming the cloud tops. The further south I went, the colder the temp got at 6000 feet. One minute 37 seconds would be the cloud deck where I encountered the icing. Trip was from 2G2 to KMBO via KBWG.

What scared me the most, is my plane is primarily white and if it wasn’t for the sun, it would have been extremely hard to detect. Needless to say, I requested and promptly was approved higher to get out of the visible moisture. The trace rime ice subliminated away once I got in VMC.

Ironically, looking at the video again, all the video portions were done during summer or warmer days and the still pictures pretty much were winter or cooler days based on the cloud formations we get around here.



Or has been reported on your route?


Providing of course it comes up in your briefing or another aircraft reports it enroute. in my case neither happened and in fact, my encounter with the trace icing was 2 hours into my flight in which the further southwest I went, the colder it got (I should have foreseen in hindsight as I flew through a cold front)…



Good posts…One of my favorite moments as an instructor back in T-37s was the first solo. We’d land and taxi to the ramp. The stud would shut down the engines and while the crew chief secured my seat for solo flight I’d review some pattern ops with the stud. Then I would tear their velcro name tag off their chest and slap my wings on. I’d be their crew chief for crank up and give them a salute as I marshaled them out. Upon return you would be able to drive a bus between thier feet and the ground they would be floating so high. I loved it. I did recently fly a crew chief in the B-1 on an incentive ride, and he refused to fly the jet. he just wanted to ride and look outside. Not many folks would refuse the chance for some stick time in a B-1. Oh well.


Nice thread allan but to be honest after i read it for the first i forgot what it was about, but hey your very lucky


Just noticed my poem here (A Dream to Fly). Glad to see someone likes it (wrote it in 1995). I’ve been filming portions of flights skimming clouds or flying through cloud canyons (also landing/T.O.). Maybe I’ll post them on You Tube someday. Take care. John Cronin