Around the Airport

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Confined to the Clouds

Sitting alone at the table, spread before me was a life; two years of mine to be precise. Summoned to answer questions, logbooks, tattered charts, and scraps of paper were my witnesses, my alibi. Thankfully, the large pile of evidence meant the inquiries, where was I, and, what exactly had I been doing, were questions I could answer. Unfortunately, they would take a while.
Six blocks across and six down filled the page I was tasked with completing. Seven long lines ran horizontally below. Across the top, instructions read “Fill in the time grid below. Then, list all aircraft flown in the last two years”.
If you hate being a number, time grids are the worst. Take numbers, assign them numbers, and you have the essence of a grid. Write just one and suddenly, without concern for its self-worth, hour number 11,253 becomes applicant number 2198. Hour number 3187 and what you did to survive is now merely one hour of Part 121, point six of instrument, and one hour of FMS time. How you handled fifty passengers, another pilot, and an airframe that was along for a ride in level six weather and managed to come out alive is insignificant. Yes, even your numbers are numbers. Desperate for a way to stand out, I stared out the window in thought. A bright yellow Mustang drove by.
“List all aircraft flown in the last two years”. Were the streets outside filled with Model A Fords, I would own this moment. Upon completion, nearly thirty planes served as reference for two years of my life. Friends far and wide, machines rare and exotic, and once in a lifetime experiences were marked by each type. And yet, in this world, mine is not an amazing life, nor is it even a useful one. It is what it is; a telegram applying for the position of email, a man of yesterday in search of tomorrow. A life that was over before it came to be.
To all of you who have trusted me with your planes, I want to thank you again for the experience. Like a raindrop to a fish out of water, each flight was an avgas boost to my spirit. I am not a wealthy man, someone of importance, nor am I even the son or relation of someone important to the community. And yet, you have allowed me to fly machines in which most pilots are excited to sit. I am what I am; a pilot. Confined to the clouds, my soul exists, while my body goes to work, and you were kind enough to notice.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Rich,
Absolutely brilliant and humbling...all at the same time.
Kudos to you my friend.