What makes me fly?
I am and always have been drawn to the sky. Flying, to me, is as much a spiritual and philosophical exercise as it is a means of transportation. It is, in some way, a part of my search for a higher meaning or purpose to life. It is an escape from the drudgery of the everyday. In prettier words:
I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.
~Antoine de Sainte- Exupery
The zen of flying.
In a world of perpetual distraction, the act of flying an airplane…at least the kind I fly…demands attention. Airplanes are stable, yet unforgiving. A moment’s distraction can unravel all of your careful planning. Did I switch tanks at that last checkpoint…?
To fly well, the pilot must become one with the airplane and live in the moment with it. The pilot must know where he is at and have a rough idea of where he is going. You have to pay attention.
Unless you fly a Cirrus…then you can just pull the chute when you wander into trouble.
Flying is real.
In my mind, the world is increasingly surreal. It is getting harder to separate marketing and reality. It is hard to tell what people’s real motivations are. Many of the problems I face at work or see in the world at large are machiavellian manufacturings of myopic middle managers.
But flying is real. When you are at the controls of an airplane, you have a sudden grasp of the fact that you are really doing something. And if you do it wrong you could end up in a smoking crater, eternally memorialized in the NTSB report.
The sharp reality of being at the controls of even the smallest aircraft is a welcome respite from the fog that we live in day to day.
Flying is an escape.
Bills. Work. Politics. Home. After a while the daily grind can wear you down.
But to lose yourself in a machine, the leave the world behind for a while and cut through the sky on a miracle of physics, is the ultimate escape.
Some men fish, some men drink, and many men combine the two; but to me there is no escape like climbing above the world and seeing it from above. Somehow, it puts everything into perspective.
A longing for a simpler time.
Most of us pilots share a fascination with the airplanes of yore. Taildraggers, Piper Cubs, DC-3s, radial engined beasts and biplanes of all flavors…despite the technological marvels we have at our fingertips many of us secretly lust for the airplanes of the classic era.
I think this reflects the basic (and eternal) human nostalgia for a simpler time when life was uncomplicated and we were free from the burdens of modern living.
We all dream of big jets and high speeds, but I think we dream of fabric wings and open cockpits just as much. Flying is more than a means of conveyance. It is the culmination of eons of human beings staring up at the sky and wondering: what’s it like up there? To reduce flying to merely a form of transportation misses the point entirely. Flight, at it’s essence, frees the mind as it moves the body. It may not be magic, but to me, it’s magical.
I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things. I could never have said it better.