It brought me back to the two flying lessons I took years ago. There is something wonderful about flight that is hard to put in words… but I’ll try, anyway.
My dad got me a flying lesson for a birthday gift two years in a row. He’s an engineer with a love for airplanes - something he definitely passed on to me. There’s a certain bliss that comes with entering a cockpit and sitting in the pilot’s seat. It’s very interesting because the cockpit isn’t clean or well kept. I can remember sitting in the ripped leather seat and gripping the surprisingly small controls, staring at the overwhelmingly detailed instrument panel. It’s not like a modern car, where everything is over-sized for luxury. No, in a Piper or Cessna, the controls are designed with a practical approach in mind.
That said, nothing can compare with the sound of the engine starting, the headset tightly pressed on your ears to drown out the noise, the feeling of liftoff, the ability to control this small machine in any direction you choose. Flying is freedom and while you’re in this claustrophobic, oil stained cockpit, you are in infinite space, free to go wherever you’d like. I wish everyone - for even a moment - could experience that sensation.
I look back on my flying lesson in a romantic state of mind. At that age, I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer… someone who could build and maintain these incredible machines. That dream didn’t pan out. I think subconsciously, I didn’t want it to.
With anything we love, there’s the romance and the reality. The same holds true with my major - English. I can read a novel for the story and that’s the romantic side of literature. Watch a movie, read a book - you enjoy it and that’s all. But when you study a book and you write about it - looking for symbolism, foreshadowing, and character devices - you might notice a bit of the magic is lost. I’m fine with that in literature because it’s replaced by a different kind of appreciation. It’s a realistic appreciation that is deeper than the romantic, “what a good story.”
But I just couldn’t do that with flying. I prefer not to know everything there is to know about airplanes and flight. I’m perfectly happy being left in the dark and keeping the magic of flight as just that - magic.
I don’t want to take flying lessons and study the rules of aviation and the laws of physics. I’d rather hold on to my memory of what it feels like to take the controls… if only for a minute.
If I became (or if I ever become) a pilot, I don’t think I would look up at the planes on a spring afternoon with the same nostalgic fondness.