~Highway to the Danger Zone, well, Kinda~
Yesterday a good friend of mine, Hansel Brand, ran into me at the Square Perk in Covington, Ga. and we talked about all sorts of things. Politics, religion, flying…See, Hans is a flight instructor and he’s been telling me he’d take me up for months now. Well, he offered yesterday and I said “Why Hell Yeah!”. I used to fly privately frequently for work and it’s been years since I’ve sat in the cockpit of a small aircraft.
Until yesterday I had forgotten how much fun it is to fly. Now I’m not talking about flying Delta from here to visit your Grandparents down in Southern Florida who are taking up space with all the Yankees and Cubans … That’s a story for another time. I’m talking about climbing into a fuselage roughly the size of a 55 gallon barrel, taxiing out onto the runway, doing the engine run-up and feeling that single engine bounce the entire plane up and down on the pavement. Oh man, if you have never flown in a small aircraft you don’t know what you’re missing.
Here, let me try my best to explain it to ya. First off, there is no where to stand up, no sky mall to read or grumpy beverage cart girl snapping “Coke, Water or Coffee…Crackers or Peanuts”…Once you’re done with the run-up and pre takeoff procedures you start down the runway, the heart is racing, the brow may have a few beads of sweat and there there you go. The plane is motoring down the runway and it feels like you’re in a roller skate on it’s way down hill. There is nothing like the feeling of the plane trying to take off before optimal speed…It’s almost like a dance. And I can promise you no matter how many times you fly just before the plane leaves the comfort of the ground there is a brief second of wonder…Wonder of whether or not the plane will actually fly.
When you feel the plane climb on top of that pocket of wind and the trees, buildings and cars start getting smaller perspective on life get’s a LOT bigger. The fact that you’re rapidly climbing away from the safety and comfort of the hard shrinking earth ALWAYS makes me think of the saying “It’s not that fall that kills ya, it’s the sudden stop that plays hell on your body”. That’s never stopped me before. And you should know that I do NOT like heights. But when you’re flying a couple thousand feet above the earth seeing things you’ve never seen before from the road, seeing mountains that are in Walton county from Oxford Ga., Seeing the tops of water towers…Man it’s worth the risk and every bit as thrilling as anything I’ve ever done.
Sure there is risk, sure there is plenty of danger involved…”What ifs” as well. What if the engine failed or the wing broke off…There is another saying that goes with that and it has to do with a creek and a paddle. There are HUGE life and death risk that is taken in leaving the ground. That fall will undoubtedly hurt, maim or kill. And it’s always in the back of your mind with each little air pocket you hit and little movement of the plane. Especially when you’re not controlling the flight of the plane and your life is literally in someone else’s hands.
Then there comes the landing. This is the part that usually gets me if there is any part of me that doesn’t like to fly it’s this part. You’re in a small plane and it’s literally like flying in a can … It’s loud, it can be stuffy and hot or cold. You’re speeding towards the runway and you feel the wing tips on each side drop and raise and drop and raise. Every sense your body owns heightens and just before the plane touches down it’s calm…..Everything slows down and it’s almost like that peace someone feels right before you die if I can equate it with anything. The wheels touch down and the throttle is pulled back and you just roll to a controlled taxi. Man, there is not another high on this planet that relates to flying. I don’t care what you say!
But the high, for me at least, isn’t from the inherent danger of crashing or the heights…It’s from the perspective I get. It’s a totally different view of the world. It’s seeing the world for what it really is…Just a thing. It’s freeing really. There really is a feeling of Freedom you get from it. The perspective is that of what really matters. It’s a shame that it takes actually feeling like I’m risking something to actually see the things that are truly important to me. But when I’m a couple grand off the ground I’m thinking about my family, friends, dog, people I need to apologize to or forgive. When I say perspective I’m not just talking about the way a full grown 200 year old oak tree looks from the air. I’m talking about who I am and what I’m doing with the life that is truly in danger.
We get in our cars, trucks and SUVs every day taking for granted that we’re going to come on tonight like we’ve always done. Sometimes that’s not the case and that’s sad. We take for granted that our family and friends will be here tomorrow as well. Not all of us can go out and jump in a plane and just take off but we can get in a car and be killed just as quickly. Now, don’t take this is that I’m saying live afraid because I’m saying the opposite. Man, get out there and FLY! Crawl into something out of the every day and get some perspective on your life. What’s important? Who’s important? Is it shoes? or clothes? or Cars? or Boats? or Rings? What is truly important? If you were to crash and burn tomorrow what would you truly want to accomplish today? Who would you want to Thank today? Tell I love you , Today?
Life is just like that short plane ride I took yesterday afternoon. You start sitting still, the rush of the take off and the euphoria of the flight, the fear of the crash, the anxiety of the landing and the feeling of no regret when that flight is over. That’s how I see things today.
When I left Covington Municipal Airport yesterday I went straight
to my parents house so that I could tell my dad, who was jealous, all about the flight. The kinda plane, the landing the entire thing…But not just that but I went to spend time with the people who are most important in my life. Not because I was scared of never seeing them but because of the perspective I have on that part of my life.
So, where does is your perspective today? Is it in the things that you can do without or the things you cannot do without?
Until the next slip of the tongue, Thank you for visiting “Gullible’s Travels”
The Loose Cannon.