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October 2008
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corvi [userpic]

<td></td><td> My flight adventures get wierder and wierder. Today, running a little late, xmurf, eeyorerin, and I arrived at the ferry terminal just in time to be pointed at the wrong ferry by the ticket seller. Bainbridge/Bremerton, what's the difference? Bainbridge island, by the way, smells wonderful. Sea salt smell upon the tongue, forest scent, and the air clean enough one expected it to squeak in the lungs. We caught a bus from Bainbridge to Poulsbo, traveled a narrow tree-lined highway, past purple foxglove and crazy-yellow scotch broom and tiny white flowers hidden amoungst the long nodding purplegray seed heads of the grass. Bus from Poulsbo to a mall in (?) Silverdale, where our usual partner-in-crime, Matt, picked us up and drove us to Bremerton. We were rather late, so Ryan preflighted the plane for eeyorerin and me himself. Not my usual plane; xmurf and I had gotten confused about which that was. I found this particular plane very difficult to handle. One had to stomp on the pedals to get any turns at all, and turning the yoke had a result of approximately zero, and (according to my instructor) it climbed terribly. Obviously, I need to learn how to handle such a plane, but I am not yet nearly good enough to fly it distracted and hurried in very turbulent skies, and I gave up after one rough landing. Flying a plane should not resemble breaking a horse to saddle (and yes, I'm allowed to make this comparison. I've done it).

Preflight is a sort of necessary ritual observance, checking over the plane to make sure it is safe to fly.

There always seems to be a strong wind in one direction or another on the airfield, scented of fuel and smoke and pine and freedom. Pacing around the plane, fingertips upon touchstone bolts, along the silksmooth edge of the prop, rattling guide rods for the ailerons, becomes a sort of dance with the wind, accompanied by the arcs swallows spiraling lazily upward over the tarmac cut in the air. Wind in hair and trenchcoat and along my curved fingers, seductive.

There is fuel to check for quality and color - it should be a very faint blue, like the color of the summer sky pressed thin between plates of glass. Check the engine, check the oil. And by now the wind is singing impatiently, or I am singing impatiently - 'come, dance with me, fly. leave all this behind and know, even for an hour, freedom.'

Pull down on the flaps to make sure they move freely, and the wind changes, more hollow and echoing thrum. The plane is a harp of gull's-wing metal, strung in climb and bank and glide and stall. The wind is a harp of a thousand voices, of the scent of smoke and the harsh cold metallic taste the air has above ground, needle strings of tension and sunlight and the intricate and beautiful eddies the wind spirals itself into.

So that by the time you scramble into the cockpit and check fuses and oil pressure and the master electrical switch, and switch on the transponder, fingers fumbling a bit in your haste to be flying, you are guided by a song every pilot hears, and maybe they all think of it differently, but I've watched them, and it's always there.

And then you are flying, and there is nothing else like it.

The moral of the story, I think, is that next time I am going to do my own preflight, even though I'm still slooooow. I felt so disconnected from that blasted plane, and I really wasn't in the mood to fly at that point, and if I'd preflighted it and felt the wind cold on the back of my neck, I would have been in the Zen pilot mindspace, which would have helped a lot.

Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: Mr. Mister - Broken Wings

Eee, you braved Kitsap Transit? ;) I lived in Silverdale for over 10 years and I can count the times I actually used the bus on one hand...

And that was most likely the Kitsap Mall, yes in Silverdale, which is the only entertainment around for many miles... for most people anyway. :)

Ah. Thank you for clearing up the mall location.
Actually, aside from the drunk guy on the bus who persisted in informing eeyorerin about how many people it took to get him into restraints, or the woman who insisted on hold a conversation with eeyorerin and dog toenails, it was pretty good. We didn't have to wait more than five minutes anywhere, and the bus driver was helpful.
I highly recommend the Kitsap transit system to anyone with the ability to go invisible at will.

Clearly it's just me, then, who attracts the weirdness. :)

So my first thought was to say that a hurried preflight was like hurried foreplay.
But that's not really apt.
Doing a really fast preflight is like doing a really fast bridge design -- a bridge that YOU are going to have to cross.
It might hold.
But when you're out in the center, way up there in the air, wouldn't you feel better knowing you spent the extra time?
I've found problems on planes. I've found loose cowling screws, and entirely missing screws on the empennage-tail transition.
One day I went to fly and the guy before me found a broken steerer pushrod on his preflight. How much would THAT suck?
Lots much.

I'll confess to liking the foreplay analogy, inaccuracies and all, a lot better. It's more poetic. Besides, I almost framed this entry around a flying == sex metaphor. It's natural to want to relate two experiences of such incredible intensity to eachother, I think.
In this case, I wasn't in any real danger; my highly competent instructor had preflighted the plane while I was off on a wild goose chase for headsets. I just ended up in the air with a stranger.

... any danger not caused by my crazy Captain Kangaroo landings, that is. ;P

I have a quarrel with highly competent, but, well... sigh.

Beautifully written... very evocative. I've never piloted a plane myself, but I've long wanted to... there's something wonderfully magical about the whole process.

Thanks for a look into that world...