None but the lonely heart

Grounded. Relenting to gravity. Gazing skywards, longing, aching for a grander perspective. Memories of the earth laid out, the horizon spanning end to end, mountain ranges, coast lines, rugged deserts. Cities sparkling in the twilight. Morning fog blanketing dark forest. Clouds illuminated by oblique rays, golden colors. Cars crawling like ants along the highway. Above it all, engine humming, voices of fellow cloud navigators fading in and out on the radio.

Turning the key, one hand on the mixture, the satisfying roar of the engine, tuned down to a steady grumble. The lovely craft, ready to go, vibrating in the slipstream of the propeller. Adjusting the squelch on the radio, quivering vacuum instruments, weather and clearance. Deliberation of preflight replaced by the hustle of departure.

Low overcast, dull and grey, tower light’s on. Into the air, into the clouds, water on the wind shield, surrounded by thick, wet darkness, eyes glued to the attitude indicator. Out on top into the brilliant sunshine, the earth hidden under a soft, white cover. The soul expands with the horizon, soars with the plane, the moment is clear and precious.  Liberated misfit, bold and free, flying forth, content and in their element.

Believe in yourself

Every student pilot comes across the notorious five hazardous attitudes, Resignation, Anti-Authority, Impulsivity, Invulnerability and Macho. Again and again, these hallmarks of poor aeronautical decision make sad appearances in accident reports, such as the superbly written compilation of “Aftermath” columns by Peter Garrison and J. Mac McClellan, published by the editors of Flying Magazine. This meticulously researched and often hair-raising treasure trove of situations to avoid should be a must-read for every pilot. Instead, it is out of print and it took all my will power not to steal it from my CFI. Continue reading