“…the capacity to achieve the impossible.”

Inspiring words found at Airventure 2012:


One of the things I love about flying is that I am realizing the dreams of the ancients. Where man used to look at the sky and dream, I can look at the sky and say: I’ve been there.

Flying gives me the sense of something larger that some people get from religion. When I fly I am doing something amazing. I am a small human being in a great big sky, and even from a mere 3,000 feet in my rented aluminum shell the world looks completely different. Flying shrinks the world but it shrinks my place in it; it shows me how big the world is.

When the wind buffets my plane, when a bubble of convective air bumps me, when I see the clouds in the distance, it gives me a larger sense of perspective. I may be overcoming the force of nature to fly, but my dominance can be reversed in an instant. Man can dominate nature to an extent, but arrogance will smash us in a downdraft.

Flying has become something banal: we board an airliner, fly across the continent, and disembark, complaining at length about seats and snacks and babies. We’ve forgotten what a miracle it is that we can climb into an aluminum tube and be thousands of miles away in hours.

I once got to watch a 777 heavy depart from the tower cab at O’Hare. Seeing the sheer magnitude of that airplane from the 26 stories up in the tower, there is just no way that it should fly. It is simply too large. It blots out the ground. When it starts to roll, it moves ever so slowly, inching forward down the tarmac until it hits an event horizon, the wingtips flex and suddenly it rockets into the sky. Six hundred thousand pounds of metal and fuel and wires and people just jumps into the sky. This is incredible. It makes my hair stand on end. And yet, it is widely considered to be a ho-hum event, just another jet, just another departure to the other side of the planet.


The words of Lindbergh and Rickenbacker ring true to me. Aviation is a hard science of aerodynamics and meteorology and physics; it is also an art, a wonder. It showcases the human ability to overcome, to master nature and to do the impossible. The knowledge that I can overcome gravity and touch the sky, even temporarily and suspended by fuel and engines and wings, inspires me and drives me onward. To sit back and bask in the awe and the glory of flight now and again does my heart good. I suspect that most aviators feel the same way.


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