Thursday, January 10, 2019

The paradox of flying in my family

Here's the paradox: I wanted to be an airline pilot when I grew up. But, my father's brother went missing in a plane in World War II. So, there was a lot of dysfunction in my father's family because his brother Tommy was the nicest person in the family. That didn't mean he was perfect it just meant that Tommy was the blonde haired adonis that all women fell in love with. But, it also meant his favorite thing to do was to go speeding in front of the police in his race cars and then hide from them.

So, to say he took risks is the understatement of the year. But, this also meant I had to swear to my father that I wouldn't get my pilot's license until he passed away which was a great sacrifice for me in my life since this was what I wanted to do more than anything at the time. I either wanted to be an airline pilot or a Bush Pilot in Alaska. But, it's also true a lot of boys wanted this kind of life when I was growing up in the 1950s. It's sort of like wanting to be an astronaut now. But, that was a similar kind of thing in the 1950s.

So, my father passed away in 1985 and so in 1987 I soloed in a Cessna 150 in California on the coast. I remember flying out over the ocean in the primary takeoff pattern of this airport and thinking about how my father had to pass away before I could solo in a plane. But, I also realized I was too bold a person (much like my Uncle) to be a good pilot without dying soon or eventually in a plane.

So, when my wife's step brother and his wife and dog died in a Piper Cherokee in Idaho in the early 2000s I had to promise my wife I wasn't going to take anymore flying lessons. I found this hard but realized I wanted to stay alive for my family more than I needed to pilot a plane or own a plane.

People who have lost relatives to small planes all have told me I'm much too bold a person to survive very long in a small plane. Though I can be methodical I'm more bold than I am methodical which can be a problem for me, my father, my uncles, my grandfather etc. in my family.

Planes are incredibly unforgiving.

One little mistake and you are dead. This is the real problem of planes in general. There is NO margin for error of any kind. You are either alive or dead every moment you are piloting a small plane.

But, flying in a jet passenger plane is an entirely different thing. A jet passenger plane is 6 times safer than driving a car on surface streets anywhere on earth.

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