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!