aptitude. I wasn’t worried about the atti-
tude part, just the aptitude.
Turns out the learning was fun, and I
really enjoyed the mechanics of it. I was
into it! Prior to solo I remember someone
they called “an FAA guy” came to fly with
me. I was told it was a check on the flight
school to see how they were doing. There
was a crosswind that day; I’d never landed
in a crosswind. Hey, I had four hours’ total
time! Approaching to land I’d point the
nose of the airplane toward the runway
and then the runway would move away. So
I’d point it back to the runway. I remembered from fishing on the river that if you
wanted to go straight across the river you
had to point the boat upstream. The “FAA
guy” asked me, “Do you see the drift?” I
said, “No.” (I didn’t know that’s what it was
called.) He said, “That’s a crosswind. Here,
I’ll land it.” Just the first of many lessons to
come. And I remember on my first dual
cross-country, my instructor, Dennis, said,
“Take a minute and just enjoy the scenery.”
And there it was: beauty and magic right
before my eyes. I was hooked. Still am.
But why, I ask, is it still so fun? Sure, it’s
always challenging (if you keep your standards high, anyway). There’s always
something you can improve upon. But a lot
of the continued love of aviation is the
diversity of it: From ultralight to
Dreamliner, it’s all good! I often think of a
guy working in an office who dislikes his job
so much that all he can think about is getting through the day so he can go home. Oh,
I just wanted to go home after some long
days or trips, too, but it was never because
of boredom. I never experienced that in
aviation. The major aviation venues that
I’ve experienced—general aviation, the military, airlines, homebuilding—are all good.
But they’re all different, too. Each entails a
different mindset. And that, exactly, is why
they were/are so interesting. You’re a pilot.
You know what I’m sayin’.
In the military it was all about the mission. Sure, safety was always a factor (as it
should be in all of aviation), but you were
always “mission oriented.” And you took it
to the limit, as necessary, to accomplish the
mission (knowing, of course, what the limit
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