A few years back I made a quick list of Life Goals for myself. Being in college at the time, they were pretty basic things: live in one place for more than four months (e.g. not a dorm), learn basic car maintenance, learn to fly an airplane.
Last Friday I made a step the right direction and took the pilot's seat in a Cessna 172 for a 30 minute flight over Gaithersburg, MD. Ok, I didn't entirely fly the plane, but it was pretty gosh darn exciting (and a little terrifying) to be steering a dinky aircraft at 2500 feet. The best part was takeoff. My co-pilot/instructor handled the throttle and details, while I pulled back on the yoke and actually got the plane off the ground. Causing yourself to suddenly become airborne is distinctly thrilling.
Anyway, as exciting as that was, the experience made it very clear how much there is to learn (and how much it would cost to learn it). As accompaniment to this adventure I've also been reading Beryl Markham's memoir, West with the Night. While it is ostensibly and primarily a book about flight, Markham also covers encounters with lions, racing horses and much else about living in Africa in the early 20th century:
For a couple more photos, visit my picasa collection.