The learning curve – part I

Ignotam animus dimittit in artes (lat.)

“(S)He turns her head to unknown arts” – Ovid


My color vision will fade any minute now. Hypoxia. The trail is sloping uphill and I just can’t get enough air. With legs heavy as lead I press on, trying to hide my growing despair. Keeping one’s cool is hard to do while sweating profusely. We pass a group of runners, one of them struggling to keep up, falling behind. That one’s for the lions.

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Watch your five o’clock!


I might be lurking behind your tail, on the inside of your turn…

This entry is inspired by fellow aviator Tonet’s recent story about a victorious dog fight, check it out:

Walter Mitty’s Fifth Kill.

Indeed, it reminded me of a flight on a mild, beautiful and innocent fall evening…a while ago…I’ve never told this story to anyone. I’ve moved countries meanwhile…watch your five o’clock…

Sunday evening. The sun is setting. I’m on my way back from a productive session of aerial gymnastics. It seems we’re both satisfied, the lovely craft and I, her engine purring contendedly. The air is smooth, the light golden. I switch over to the tower frequency to announce my imminent arrival. Continue reading

Aviation and writing

We only perceive differentials. Only through acceleration or deceleration are we able to discern movement. Constant speed does not register. We need context, too, a single sense might betray us. Without visual reference, forward acceleration can be mistaken for a pitch-up movement. Thus, pilots have flown their airplane into the ground in 0/0 visibility takeoffs.

In writing, or art in general, we might strive to produce beauty by cutting away anything that appears ambiguous and ugly to us. In the attempt to even out the troughs, we don’t notice that the peaks shrink away as well. The intention was to produce an aggreable hit song. Fear set in to veer off, instead, into Klingon opera territory by allowing room for confusion, regret, fear and disappointment. The result will be the kind of bland elevator music that barely registers. A hollow lie, more depressing than the ugly truth.

Equally, hardly anything is black or white. Our brains are wired to reduce complex information to a simple message. However, an overall picture can be computed out of shades of grey. Occam’s razor, for instance, is a sharp tool: with two competing hypotheses, choose the one less reliant on assumptions. The left side of the brain finds order this way. The right side accepts the chaos and is comforted by fearless art illuminating the beauty and the struggle.

The beautiful madness


A shout-out to a fellow aviation enthusiast and friend. Tonet and Carlo have inspired and delighted me with greatly with their wonderful blog, on which I stumbled when I had just gotten a first taste of what I’m sure is going to be a lifelong affliction. Reading their adventures was and continues to be like pouring oil on a fire.

A story on an unexplained loss of performance drew me in.

Loafing Off Loakan.

And then…Thy youth is restored like eagle’s electrified me…

Thy Youth Is Restored Like the Eagle’s.

I had just scheduled a pre-solo spin lesson in my flight school’s Super Decathlon and couldn’t wait.

Along with Richard Bach’s “The Gift of Wings” and “Fate is the Hunter” by Ernest K. Gann, reading this blog restored my faith. I was not the only one overcome by the magnificence of flight. This is a shared sentiment (more on this in the next blog entry).

Thank you.