Tuesday, December 29, 2015

December ... Rhymes with Remember

Way back, I spent 90% of my time looking ahead ... planning trips in the corporate jets, juggling work schedules for pilots, trying to keep the load distributed evenly  for everybody. All that is behind me. I tell my friends that my schedule is whatever comes next. That happens when you hand the jet keys to the next guy in charge and walk away. 

The other day I was cleaning out a bunch of old files and came across some articles that I wrote for Air&Space/Smithsonian in the early 90s. Here's one of them (you'll have to click on the images or zoom in to make them big enough to read):

Somebody (OK, more than one somebody) asks from time to time if I've ever been close to the grim reaper and this was one of those times - that's why I stuck it in the blog first. Also, A&S paid me more for it so it must have been more important than my other attempts at published immortality (Richard Bach once wrote that the lifespan of a magazine writer's work is akin to that of a Mayfly, and it's true).

While I admit to having mellowed a bit - (These days, my mach number is closer to .01 than to 1.0; my flight level is closer to 010 than 450 and, truth be told, the Chevy will get me to nearby destinations about as fast as a light-sport airplane) - my heart still quickens when the weather turns nice, the turf is firm and the wind is down the runway. All the airport guys turn out on days like that, each wanting to fly but not wanting to leave good company. Pretty soon the group begins to disperse ... gotta check the oil, you know, gotta check the fuel.  It's understood. Airplanes are pushed out of hangars, engines started one by one and then, one by one again: taxi out, turn onto the wind, takeoff and fly. Maybe to lunch here or there, maybe just look at the scenery. The flying's the thing; the excuses are not important at all. My patient wife understands this is not a phase I'll outgrow.

When all is said and done, the dogs fed and the poops picked up, that's when I'll tally up the score, such as it is, but not before. For now I'm pointed forward, and it's such a nice day.