Pack Creek Ranch, San Juan County, Utah.
The third week of October, 2016
Crystal clear and calm both day and night for a stretch.
Bright moon at night.
Considerations – before you read on:
To begin with: Though I grew up in Waco, Texas – “Way-Co Tex-us” – I’m about to tell you about the Waco Biplane –
The plane has no connection to Texas – it’s produced in Battle Creek, Michigan, by the Waco Classic Aircraft Corporation.
Second, the Waco biplane I flew in is not a rickety vintage antique, but a modernized reproduction, with fully upgraded systems – digital avionics and modern safety equipment – and, very important – heat in the cockpit.
Finally, there’s no wing-walking allowed. I asked . . .
UP IN A WACO
One of the few items marked off my bucket list is #21 “Flying my own plane.”
It’s too late now. I’m too old and forgetful – and forgetful is not good for flying.
Somehow, my life circumstances were never just right to learn.
That doesn’t mean I’ve not flown whenever I had the chance.
I’ve been up in small planes, gliders, hot-air balloons, and sat in the co-pilot’s
seat and “flew” a single-engine plane for a while when it was safe to do so.
Once I even jumped out of a plane in a parachute – and once was enough.
That felt more like dying than flying.
And I’ve flown a zillion miles in commercial jet liners.
But that’s not flying, either – it’s time-travel in a titanium tube.
A biplane seemed like the best way to fly.
Slow – 80 mph cruising speed – more like floating than flying.
Direct sensory experience of being out there and up there in the air.
Safe – two wings are better than one.
And I could very lightly touch the control stick with my fingers to feel what
the pilot behind me was doing. A kind of secondary semi-flying experience.
And so it came to pass.
All credit to pilot Nick Lamoureux of Redtail Air, who sensed what I wanted and kept his commentary on the experience to a thoughtful minimum.
It is a compliment to him and the flight that I kept my mouth shut the whole time.
Usually incapable of not talking, I was speechless during the whole trip, because I was so enchanted by being up there and out there. Not multi-tasking for a change.
Just single tasking as a passenger with nothing to do but be there.
Enough prose – here’s a poem I wrote this morning when thinking about flying.
It’s raining, and the poets
Are staring still out of
their windows having
feelings and thoughts.
Death, and dying, dead –
they write and write:
We’re all going to
Die, Die, Die!
I know, but why . . .
Why do you think I care?
It’s not raining and the
Poets lie still in their
beds thinking they will
Die, Die, Die!
In the meanwhile I
Am out there flying
In an open cockpit bi-plane
A very mellow yellow one.
Thinking that if I
ever, ever thought of
suicide I would do this
first and not want to die.
No, no dying poet I –
Just a man in the air
Shouting into the windy sky
If you want a visual taste of what I experienced, go to YouTube and bring up the flight scene from the film, “Out Of Africa.”
Out of Africa youtube