|Photo: Paul King Mansfield|
The question got me to thinking about, first, why do I fly? And second, why do all of us fly? At first, specious answers suggested themselves:
- "It's fun!"
- "Flying is so convenient."
- "Because I can!"
But none of the easy answers really captured the motivation that leads me to engage in a costly activity with (let's face it) heightened risk, on a regular basis. In the end, this is the response I gave to Toria's question:
Why do I fly?
I fly because in flying there is no pretense, no prevarication, no dishonesty. The airplane doesn't know your family name or your pedigree. It can't read your resumé or check your references. It cares not about the color of your skin, or your gender, or where, if anywhere, you bow before your god.
The airplane only cares that your hand and your mind and your heart can become one with it when, together, you have to deal with the fierce crosswind, or the frontal weather, or the icy threats of winter.
The airplane looks back at you and says, "Do or do not. There is no 'try'." But when you give the airplane what it needs from you, it returns a satisfaction that is rare in our world. And that is a priceless gift.
But that's just me. Other pilots certainly respond most powerfully to other satisfactions. Some relish the freedom of flying a J-3 Cub from a rural grass strip and cruising, low and slow, over the countryside. Others may crave the adrenalin rush that comes with taking a fully aerobatic Yak-52 to the edge of its performance envelope for an air show crowd. The warbird owner may sacrifice many things for the feeling that when he keeps his 65 year old T-6 flying he is in touch with, and part of, the amazing tradition of aviation in America.
I'm pretty certain that there are almost as many reasons to fly as there are aviators. And that's a wonderful thing because it preserves the variety and vitality of aviation.
So, my flying friends, think it over for a few minutes. Of all of the reasons to fly, all of the rewards to be had, which one speaks most clearly to you? And when you have it figured out, go on over to Toria's blog and leave your answer to her question.