I can blame flying on my neighbor and buddy, George. I wanted to fly as a kid, preferably without an airplane. Lose the clutter. Scuba diving, when I had my buoyancy at neutral, was a pretty close approximation. But there’s that breathing thing. On the other hand, you don’t smash when you hit bottom. But SCUBA satisfied. Then I rode in a small plane, an empty ski shuttle heading back to Albuquerque from Taos and a visit with my friend Sage. Right then, I knew I wanted to do this. You’re not flying while sitting on a United 727. You are riding a greyhound bus that happens to drive up in the air. But in a small plane – the very nice pilot let me sit in the right hand seat and listen over the headset – you are flying. I wanted to do that.
But I had two young kids and there wasn’t any money for it. So I didn’t.
I get George’s horse manure from his barn every weekend, haul it down to my place and turn it slowly into new soil. We talk. He has owned a number of planes, got his pilot’s license the month before I was born, and got his Master Pilot’s Certificate after fifty years of uneventful (no FAA no-nos) flying. He no longer flies alone – The FAA makes it a bit tough on people in their eighties as far as passing the medical goes. Oh, he always passed, but he had to do it twice a year and it’s spendy. So he let his medical lapse and flies with a friend who is an instructor. Realize, George does the flying. But he has to have Dave along. He invited me along one day, to ride in the rear seat of the twin-engine Comanche he flies. All over again, I was hooked. And then, when we landed, he bought me an hour’s flight time with Dave, in his little Piper Pacer, a ‘tail dragger’.
Sneaky guy. I think George just wanted someone to talk flying with. And got it. So I currently have a student certificate and am flying a little Cessna 152 out of windy Troutdale, a towered airport. It has turned out to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I’m used to doing physical and mental stuff pretty easily. Oh, the flying part came easily. Even stalls and exciting things like that. It’s just applied physics and I do understand physics so I’m not expecting the plane to instantly fall out of the sky, and it’s so cool up there! However, hurling myself and an 1100 lb plane at the paved ground at a relatively high rate of speed did not seem intuitive. At all. In fact, it seemed highly contraindicated. Since teleportation from 1000 feet to the runway did not work for me, me and my survival-oriented hindbrain had to have a meeting of minds about this landing thing. The hindbrain finally gave up and simply sits back there and grumbles under its breath as I land, now. It did not give up without a struggle, believe me.