|Yeah, so I figured I should post something in seriouscw. Here it is.
||[Mar. 29th, 2005|03:36 pm]
"All literary men are Red Sox fans." John Cheever
The run-up is done. Both the airframe and the engine are in fine working order. You roll up to the end of the taxiway. All your checklists are complete, so you contact the tower and request a right turnout, northbound departure. Receiving clearance, you take to the field. Aim for the end of the strip. Full throttle. 55 knots, rotate.
Flying is so different to me than anything else I do. Most of us have spent at least some time with a simulator: the obligatory joystick, PC, and keyboard setup. I myself started out that way, after toys of course. Flight sims aren’t bad---they’re a whole lot better than a piece of folded paper---but they’re no substitute for the real thing.
First of all, I was dissatisfied with the total lack of g-forces in simulators. No sim can replicate the two-gee force of a hard, steep, 60 degree turn, or the light, giddy half-gee of an abrupt dive. But secondly, and most irritating, was the complete lack of penalty for crashing. Drat, did you fly into the ground because you overstressed the wings and they fell off? No problem, just start a new game. Not exciting at all. Eventually, I got tired of the threatless virtual world of flying and decided to venture into the real world of flying, where the threats of crashing are very real.
At first, it was daunting. There’s so much to think about when you’re in the air. Watch your altitude. Keep the speed below 150. Stay on course. Don’t violate any other airports’ airspace. Be wary for other aircraft out there. Stick to the route you plotted. Then of course there are the million-and-one restrictions and regulations for every flight to remember. Did I pick up the ATIS (automatic terminal information service) and get current weather info? Am I keeping 500 feet below, 2,000 to the side, and 1,000 feet above that cloud? Have I established two-way radio communication with my destination?
But flying isn’t always such a hectic crossfire of self-doubt and worries. When I’m flying, I’m truly in control. Not just in control: I’m free. Free to go where I want, do what I choose, and see what I want to see. Maybe I don’t feel like flying so high? Reduce power, pitch down, and suddenly I’m cruising just 500 feet above the surface at a blistering 130 mph. Too low? Full power, pitch up, and now I’m soaring with the hawks (quite literally), gazing down at the North Shore, and realizing suddenly just how damn flat everything is here. You’d never guess, but Massachusetts is unbelievably level when seen from any altitude above 3000 feet.
Flying really changes people, I used to hear. Now I hear myself reciting that same rhetoric. But it’s not rhetoric to me anymore. It’s a mantra. I now see things in a totally different way. Mastering the air in my free time has taught me that I am a capable person, that I can achieve any goal I might set. Becoming a flyboy has added a whole new dimension to my life.
And I don’t just mean vertically.