APOD: DC-3

For today’s viewing pleasure: a gorgeous DC-3 spotted at Oshkosh 2013!

A beautiful red and white DC-3 at Oshkosh.

A beautiful red and white DC-3 at Oshkosh.

I like this image, but I also thought it would be fun to play with it in GIMP, my open-source version of Photoshop. So I did a selective-color operation on the prop blades and made the rest black and white. I’m not sure if I like it or not; the original photo leaves little to be desired in my opinion.

DC3selcol

I’ve also thought about doing a red-only selective coloring, but I think I might leave it alone for now.

“You can always tell when a man’s lost his soul to flying…”

You can always tell when a man’s lost his soul to flying. The poor bastard is hopelessly committed to stopping whatever he is doing long enough to look up and make sure the aircraft purring overhead continues on course and does not suddenly fall out of the sky. It is also his bound duty to watch every aircraft within view take off and land.

~ Ernest K. Gann, Fate Is the Hunter

This describes me to a T. I will stop whatever I’m doing – driving, crossing the road, CPR – in order to scope out an interesting airplane.

Gann’s book is on my aviation short list. I’ve been told it is a must-read for aviators.

Aviation Photo of the Day: Heritage Flight

There are few things that will warm an aviation geek’s heart like a heritage flight.

An old warbird flying formation with a modern-era fighter jet reminds us just how far we’ve come in aviation. From the glory days of gleaming metal propliners to the technological marvels that are modern jet airliners, we’ve come a long way. Compare a rickety wooden first-generation flying machine with a sophisticated new airplane, and it’s amazing that the one evolved from the other.

The paradox is that as much as we love our technology and our complex flying systems, the pilot’s heart yearns for the simpler days of flight, when we’d strap on a wood-and-fabric airplane and fly around low and slow, experiencing the joy and wonder of man’s ultimate triumph over his environment. Flying is about so much more than going from A to B.  To paraphrase Richard Bach in Jonathan Livingston Seagull,

You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment you touch the perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and Perfect Speed, my son, is being there. 

The fact that human beings can fly at all is a miracle too often overlooked these days. Heritage flights inspire us and remind us of why we fly:

 

Heritage flight with a P-51 and an F-16, St. Augustine, Florida.

 

We fly because it’s awesome. That’s why.

Richard Bach

I work nights. Yesterday afternoon started out a little rough for me. I woke up, stumbled zombie-like out into the world, and poured myself some coffee to reestablish my baseline serum caffeine level.

Usually I start the day by reading my aviation twitter feed and AOPA eBrief over coffee. To my dismay, the twitterverse told me that one of my favorite authors, Richard Bach, had been involved in a plane crash in the San Juans up in Washington state. Apparently his airplane caught a power line on approach. Reports indicate that he might have a head injury as well as the other usual traumatic breaks and bruises.

Working in intensive care, I’ve seen my share of traumatic head injuries. Results vary widely from person to person, and I sincerely hope that Mr. Bach will be able to make a full recovery. The mind that brought forth some of my favorite aviation books, such as Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions, is a treasure. Bach’s work is inspiring.

Instead of our drab slogging forth and back to the fishing boats, there’s a reason to life! We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!

You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment you touch the perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and Perfect speed, my son, is being there.

~Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Wow.

Flying!

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