Saturday, April 2, 2011

...I flew a plane?

Looks like I neglected to post anything for an entire month despite the pile of saved drafts I have going here. eh heh.

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:

Tom taught me in a D.H. Gipsy Moth, at first, and her propeller beat the sunrise silence of the Athi Plains to shreds and scraps. We swung over the hills and over the town and back again, and I saw how a man can be master of a craft, and how a craft can be master of an element. I saw the alchemy of perspective reduce my world, and all my other life, to grains in a cup. I learned to watch, to put my trust in other hands than mine. And I learned to wander. I learned what every dreaming child needs to know — that no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or beyond it. These I learned at once. But most things came harder.

For a couple more photos, visit my picasa collection.

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