Restoring The Passion For Flying
Along with many of my fellow avgeeks, I have spent a lot of time recently writing about trying to get new people excited about aviation. It is incredibly important that we spark that new interest where possible, but there is another group that is also in need of a spark these days.
Many professional aviators have a tendency to lose their true love of aviation when it simply becomes a job filled with trials. I will admit that even I have had days where the flying just felt like work and had lost some of its wonder.
Not everyone can be as upbeat and passionate as Cap’n Aux (http://capnaux.com/) in helping others get excited about flying. So what can be done to get professional flyers back to the wonder of aviation that drove them to that career in the first place?
This may sound crazy, but get them flying again.
Not in a 737, Learjet, or even a 747(though how could that ever stop being cool?), but back in a small single engine plane. I think the medicine that most jaded aviators need is some good old fashioned VFR flying, or IFR if they prefer (I Follow Roads of course). There is just something about VFR flying that rekindles that fire inside and immediately reminds you how cool flying is supposed to be.
I came to this realization on Christmas afternoon when I had the opportunity to go flying with a friend from work who owns a Piper Cub. This was our second attempt to go flying after strong winds foiled our first attempt. It was a gorgeous VFR day with only a couple of other small aircraft in the area.
It was amazing to me how quickly the wonder of flying flooded over me. Literally as I was walking out to the already running plane I felt like a little kid on Christmas ripping open their first present. The wonder only continued as we taxied out to the runway and took off in only about 200 feet. How cool is that?
We had no real plan and just cruised around for about an hour and a half over the Arkansas River. We did a low pass on a small island in the river and an old abandoned airstrip in the middle of a small neighborhood. We never broke 1500 feet MSL or 95 knots, but it was one of the most enjoyable flights I have ever had.
Cruising around with the side door open with the wind blowing past is an incredibly exhilarating experience. It gives you a sense of freedom that really can’t be described but must be experienced to truly understand.
That is exactly the kind of experience that many professional flyers need to have to restore the wonder of aviation in their life. They need to get away from glass cockpits and auto pilots and back to steam gauges, Avgas, and flaps and trim that are lowered with a hand crank.
I know this idea will likely never get past this blog, but I think airlines, the military, and corporate aviation departments would be well served by getting their pilots back into small planes more often. It would be an incredibly minor cost with tremendous returns to help restore the wonder of flying back to people who really need it.
I am incredibly grateful to my friend Harrison for taking me up for one of the best afternoons I have had in a long time. I am sad to say that he will be deploying soon so this will likely be the last adventure of this type until he returns next year. We genuinely need more true aviators like him who have a passion for flying of all kinds and are willing to share it with others.
For those of you professional aviators that may be burned out from the repetitive grind of flying for a living I strongly suggest that you make your way out to a little airport and get in some VFR flying. I promise that if you really let yourself enjoy it you will have the wonder of flying restored and you will walk away rejuvenated and ready to spread the passion of flying to all of those other people that we need to bring into the flying family.
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