Aircraft, aeroplane, airplane, helicopter, gyrocopter, trike, airship...the list goes on. Aviation goes by many names.
It also changes its form over the span of years, or even a day, as it relates to our lives.There are times when aircraft shrink the globe to bring us closer to loved ones and frustrating hours when we are learning to fly when the cockpit can resemble a torture chamber in response to our ham-fisted efforts at flight. For some that same environment can ultimately transform into a flight deck and an office at altitude.
Yet for all its forms and roles, the aircraft can also bring us unbelievable memories. Sunrises and sunsets as we've never seen them before. People and places that we could only ever have imagined. The opportunities can be as unpredictable as they are limitless and as pilots we savour those moments and occasionally capture them on film. We try to share those moments with others. but often it is only from other pilots that we receive those silent, knowing nods of a shared belief and understanding.
As I re-edited my book 'Solo Flight' recently I came across such a moment. A perfectly still, perfectly silent moment as the night gave way to the day. And while that flight around this great land afforded me so many special memories, I thought I would share this simplest of pleasures with you....
"Sitting on my kit bag, I remain absolutely still, depriving myself of all sensory input and allowing my mind to roam freely. It is the most relaxing feeling in the world and my thoughts wander to the aviators of old, sleeping beneath their wings and the pioneer drovers at rest on their swags by the track. Removed from the digital drone and even human contact, I am at absolute peace and allow the silence to be broken only by drawing in the deepest of breaths before slowly expelling through my lips. I gradually raise my eyes to the sky and there are more stars than I have ever seen before. In the absence of city lights, nature’s answer is a complex array of twinkling stars and steady planets tied together by a glowing mist reaching me through the passage of time.
This is one of the most peaceful moments of my life.
And then there is just an inkling; a slight hint of a glow. To my night-adjusted eyes, the distant light seems to be spreading rapidly and creating an edge between the night and the advancing day. About me, the undergrowth begins to emerge as shadowy forms from the darkness and the outline of the Jabiru seems to appear out of vapour. With each growing ray of light, my serenity is replaced by the spinning wheels within my brain. The pilot within is waking, elbowing my inner peace out of the way. “Enough“, it barks. “It’s time to fly!”...
Yes...it is time to fly.