Another silly old chestnut – one that does little to soothe an aching heart. And the question that follows leaves the wounded soul wondering – would it have been better to have never loved at all?
I was introduced to the love of my life when I was about ten – when Dad took me flying. I was fascinated with all the gauges, the noise, the escape from the ground, the rush of coming back down. Even over Phoenix I was thrilled by the view. I got my license as soon as I was old enough. My dream was to be a corporate pilot, but was told that competing in that post Vietnam era was impossible; perhaps I was too easily discouraged. Nevertheless, the affair continued before, during, and after my marriage. The world of flying is full of interesting people – mostly men – all with fun stories to tell. Though most of my flights were in the Southwest, they included unique adventures like traffic watching over Phoenix and swing loading supplies to the bottom of the Grand Canyon by helicopter, hanging upside down over the Phoenix desert and the San Diego coastline in biplanes, as well as landings at remote airstrips all over Arizona in little Cessnas, solo or with friends and family. Then there was a ride in a DC-3 over Denali – no words can describe that! Eventually I quit flying myself, but my circle of friends continued to be pilots, and three of my jobs kept me around, involved, and passionate about flying.
I don’t think I took my love for granted, but I ignored it for long stretches, not on purpose, just by circumstance. And I have to admit it slipped my mind when choosing my Montana home to settle down – there’s an airport here but no restaurant, no terminal or shop of any kind on the field for a cup of coffee, no place to go to do a little “hangar flying.” Many a great meal has been had in airport restaurants, always fun conversations, always about flying.
After moving here I had a very brief encounter that took me island hopping in the San Juans in Washington in Turbo Otters and landing on my new hometown’s river in a float plane. It didn’t last and broke my heart. Love is the only word.
I don’t think I took my love for granted, but I ignored it for long stretches, not on purpose, just by circumstance. And I have to admit it slipped my mind when choosing my Northwest home to settle down in – there’s an airport here but no restaurant, no terminal or shop of any kind on the field for a cup of coffee, no place to do a little “hangar flying.” Many a great meal has been had in airport restaurants, all with fun conversations and fantastic views – always about flying.
So now I live vicariously through my nephew, Eric. The lucky kid (okay, he’s 35) is now a corporate pilot. He’s paid heavy dues to get to this point, but it’s nice to see the hard work of a great guy pay off. He flies jets to tropical islands and to freezing Canadian prairie towns, has layovers in Aspen, and hours of waiting in not so glamorous places. He also flies Cubs – little, teeny planes that give a different perspective of the world, flying low and slow. He admits there are trade offs, but what price is too high for love? He recently sent this picture from a flight over the Tetons. Look at the reflection on the wing! And see the other plane – just above the peaks? Had I never known this thrill myself I couldn’t close my eyes and hear the hum of the engine, feel the heat from the floor vents, or know the privilege of seeing staggeringly beautiful parts of this country that most people will never see from that angle. So though I mourn my lost love, I look forward to every picture Eric sends and hang on every word as he describes his latest adventure. Thank Goodness I once knew this kind of love, it would have been tragic to have never known it at all!