Monday, September 13, 2010

Back In The Saddle...UH...Cockpit Again!

I flew a plane!! Dare I say it? It's really hard to believe, but here we go...

It's been 30 years since I piloted a small plane! Flying the small craft is not what is so amazing; it's that 30 years have gone by since I sat behind the controls.

Let me bring you up to speed. Like most guys, I've always loved anything that goes fast, sounds powerful, is powerful, is bright and shiny (especially red) and smells like gasoline and oil.

In the water,

on the ground

or in the air.

It's all good!

Sound familiar? Probably you know someone like this. Maybe it's you!

Mechanical things are wonderful. I've tinkered with just about everything, even rebuilding engines. I've driven just about anything with an engine from lawn mowers to bulldozers and road graders, to Ferraris and Lamborghinis and a whole lot in between.

I like speed. Especially if there is an engine involved. Planes fascinate me. As a kid, I always loved going to air shows(I still do). So when I was about 19 years old, I pursued flying.

I thought and dreamed that I might like to be an airline pilot one day. But eventually the idea of being stuck in a small room(cockpit) with a couple of other guys hour after hour, day after day, month after month...for years slowly began to play in my head like a bad Rod Serling episode of The Twilight Zone.

So, I joined the Navy (besides I couldn't fly in the Air force with bad vision). Okay, so maybe that wasn't so smart. (There were some good times in there.) I was a SEABEE and got to tinker on some really cool heavy equipment...diesel engines (though they didn't go really fast).

Where was I...oh yeah...

So, I interrupted my flying lessons, I was thisss close (You can't see it, but I'm holding my fingers really close together, like the size of a hair.) to getting my private pilot's license! Actually just a mere night flight and one cross country trip from completion.

I've always regretted not finishing and for all these years, I've longed to go back to it. Every time I see a plane in the sky. Perhaps now I will.

Well, why did I stop? You know how it is. Priorities--girls, cars,money, time, girls, cars, money, time...uh, oh, starting to sound like a Twilight Zone episode again.

Anyway, fast forward a few years. How I got back in the air was at the invitation of a patient, fellow Rotarian, and friend, Dana, who owns a flight school in Sugar Land, Texas. graciously asked Mary and me to "go up" in one of his planes. I think he said, "Would you be interested in taking a plane up on Saturday?"

Of course, I intelligently replied, "No, I don't think so...duh!" He got my drift.

So, some how we picked one of the hottest Saturdays in a record heat month(August) in Texas to fly a small plane with no air conditioning!! (That's worth two exclamation points.) I believe it was 100+ with a heat index of 110. Did I say it was hot? Now I know what a crawfish feels like in the boil.

We finally got some cold air at 3500 feet...87 degrees!

As we were cruising over some beautiful countryside, Dana asked me if I wanted to take over the controls...another, "Oh, duh!" moment. I took the yoke and proceeded to do some hard banking, loop dloops, and barrel was all coming back. (Well, that was running through my head anyway.)

No, I kept her steady and on course. He let me have her for a while, not too short, not too long...just enough to give me the bug again. I suspect Dana wants me to take lessons again.

All in all it was a great time. We all survived. My wife had it the worst though, she was in the back seat with less room than a Volkswagen full of circus clowns. And did I mention it was hot? I think Dana picked the smallest plane in his fleet. Back on the ground, Mary kissed the ground, hugged Dana and told me, "Next time you sit in the back!" We had a blast though. Well worthwhile and Dana runs a top notch operation. I think everyone should learn to fly.

Then there will be more room for me on the ground. Did I tell you I love driving cars? There are a few lessons in this story (not just flying lessons).

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Live life to the fullest!

Pursue your dreams and passions...even just once!

Don't put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today! (I think
someone said that before me.)

Don't spend all your time watching movies about other people living.

Live your bucket list now! (While you can ambulate reasonably

Live more, love more, and give more... for tomorrow may never come.

Live in the present, live in the now, live in the moment!

Don't wait 30 years!

Dr. Rick Barrett
Author of Give to Live; The Real Secret to Manifesting Life's

P.S. The only thing missing (besides air conditioning) was a killer sound system playing Pink Floyd's song, Learning to Fly!

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