AS IF THERE IS such a thing. The purpose of any flight may sound routine: “Flight instruction,” “Aircraft test flight,” “To Sebring for engine maintenance,” but the flying itself nearly always has some unexpected gift. Those can’t-be-planned events filter into a pilot’s life nearly every time she lifts off the ground, whether or not he makes a note of them in his logbook, “Cloud of flamingoes rose from the reeds.”
Today’s flight was the above, “To Sebring for engine maintenance,” with Dan Nickens. He said he’d be flying over the house around 9:30 and did I want to join him on his trip for maintenance?
Puff and I met Dan and Jennifer (WT’s less formal name) at 1,500 feet at 9:30. The air was still and smooth, I switched the camera on for a crossover and return, floating in the air:
IT NEVER would have happened, this scene, under zero conditions would ever I have stood on this beach, heard this cool water whispering in the sand, felt that breeze across the water, were it not for the machine you see here, colored maroonish-white.
Is that what they had in mind, the ones who labored and failed, labored and won the inventions of flight? “It’s not the machine that matters,” would they have said, “it’s the experience that the machine will bring to lives unborn!”
HERE’S A judgment-test for you. Don’t be concerned, it’s just a little quiz, and of course our lives depend on your decision:
It’s early April. You are I are flying the Lake Amphibian from Florida to Washington State, westbound out of Rawlins, Wyoming at noon toward Twin Falls, Idaho. It was summer in Florida, but right now we’re 30 miles east of Ogden and the outside air temperature is 12 degrees F. I’d like to turn the heater on, but I haven’t run it since last winter and if some bird built a nest in there we’ll have a fire when I hit the Heater-Start switch and I’m not up to a fire just now I’d rather freeze.
I’ve been flying airplanes for over a hundred years, now. Orville Wright yelled at me, “Kid, you’ll never be a pilot if you keep standing on the launch-track when we’re taking off!” He was right. I stood aside, didn’t get killed, and sure enough I’ve been flying ever since.