I've been fooling around with airplanes and flying for a long time. Ever since, that is, the nice, friendly guy that visited us periodically in my father's little grocercy store in Miami, FL, circa 1951, said "Why don't you try the CAP". He was the Chesterfield cigarette rep and did things like hang up new ad posters and such. Since I was a smoker, just about like everyone else at the time, I didn't hold that against him. So I went out to Sunny South airport in Opa-Locka, FL and managed to do my first solo after about 12 hours of flight time. I think the more usual time to solo back then was only about 8 or 9 hours - oh well. Lots of water over the dam since then and I still think it's a great thing to go flying.
I do some flight instructing at the Free Flight Aviation club (FFA) located in Lumberton, NJ. We're on the Jersey side of the greater Philadelphia area. FFA is a member organization situated at Flying W airport (N14). The club fleet consists of a C-152, several PA28-161s, a PA28-181, a Diamond DA20-C1, and a Diamond DA40-180. Free Filght Aviation
My son and I are co-owners of a 1975 Citabria 7ECA. This type machine is a derivative of an Aeronca Champ which is of the class of small, two seater, tailwheel aircraft belonging to the immediate post WWII era. It is a fun machine and distinctly different from the more user friendly 'modern' types of the mid '50s and up through the present. It is certified in the aerobatic category and though not equipped for extended inverted flight (no inverted fuel/oil systems) is a good aerobatic trainer.
I have owned, at various times, two other aircraft, a 1957 Cessna straight tailed C-172, and a 1976 Cessna Cardinal C-177B. The C-172 was based with the family at several locations: BAP, Buffalo Airpark in Buffalo, NY, FCM, Flying Cloud Airport in Minneapolis, MN, ASH, Boire Field in Nashua, NH, N14, Flying W in Medford, NJ, and VAY, South Jersey Regional Airport in Mount Holly, NJ. The C-177 was based at N14 and VAY.
How can I wax philosophically about flying? Well there is a significant philosphical, spiritual component of aviation. The spirituality is exemplified by a poem, "High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. High Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941
This poem is iconic and probably everybody who has ever flown since is at least aware of it.
Flying fills a special niche in life and, I think, always remains special; even for those who, for one life intervening reason or another, no longer participates. It is at once life affirming, rewarding, educational, therapuetic, demanding, humbling, pocket emptying, etc. I'll be sad when the day comes to hang up my headset - but that's not yet!
There are many facets of modern aviation. One possible listing might be:
And of course the almost mind boggling progress in just over a century since the dawn of powered flight is unparalled in history.
The 'ticket to ride (fly)' doesn't come all that easily. The process starts with a person's interest which may lead to an 'Introductory' or 'Discovery' flight. Many people will be quickly led down the rose covered path to 'aviation addiction' from such a simple initiation. Well in the interests of literary accuracy maybe 'addiction' is a mite strong. But I won't back away from saying that the need to take the next lesson is often rather compelling. Although the earning of the 'ticket to fly' cannot be thought of in terms of a rough analogy to that for driving (much easier), it is readily obtainable by anyone with the normal complement of physical/mental/emotional attributes. It does require the motivation and drive to master the requisite knowledge and skill elements. The process is one of learning and training. There is a distinction: training involves more of a repetitive practice and results in a deeper behavioral modification. In like manner, one doesn't just 'learn' to be a nueral surgeon, he/she is 'trained' to be.
A brief summation of the road to private pilot-ism is as follows:
Here's a partial list of flying related titles particularly near to heart. This list does not reflect the extensive collection of modern texts and other materials devoted to the art and science of aviation.
Stick and Rudder
The Compleat Taildragger Pilot
Flight of Passage
The Simple Science of Flight
By The Seat of My Pants