IVAN'S AVIATION MINUTE-WHY DO I FLY

By Ivan van der Schaar

So we have covered the training syllabus pretty much. The subjects we did not cover are a list that goes on and on and can keep us busy for a while. I feel that these "extra" subjects needs one on one time with the necessary expertise.

On this issue I have decided to forget all the technicalities of flight and let's take a journey back, way back to the grass roots of flying and ask the question. Why do I fly?

For those who have seen "16R", the documentary of Van Nuys airport in California will be familiar with the opening phrase by Barry Schiff: "Flying is like Picasso". In other words, It cannot be explained unless experienced".

Now to start our journey. Day 1. The Wright brothers. Since beginning of time man was fascinated with flight and envied and studied the birds. Many people tried but failed miserably until the right formula and combination was achieved in terms of the Wright flyer.

For these two men, bicycle builders, Orville and Wilbur, flight was a fantasy and had to be tasted at all costs. Although gliders were doing the rounds imagine flying and staying aloft for as long as reserves such as thrust around.

So they did exactly that. They built a flying machine and flew it. Can you imagine what went through their minds as they were about to be launched of that track? Imagine if they knew their first flight would be the length of a 747?

I am sure they were treated the same as Noah, in building this contraption. What for? And local folk especially those witch hunting up until recent years must have been totally against this idea of "manned powered" flight . Imagine the gossiping in that small town, the humiliation that these two men endured. But you know what? They Orville and Wilbur had a dream and wanted to taste flight, and so they did opening a network of what we have today. Can you imagine if you could time travel these two brothers and take them to Heathrow or an aircraft carrier or even the moon…

After the "first" flight possibilities were endless. The average person saw "manned" flight was more than possible and an impulse of desire had been sparked. Man wanted to fly. Aircraft developed rather quickly. Look at the development between World War I and II.

Young men needed to get their hand on an aircraft no matter what, even if it meant to face death by fighting over the skies during the great world wars. Young men were well aware of the possible consequences but, they had to taste flight. Many thousands were lost during both wars but yet the passion to fly just grew longer. The training was rather quick and intense and many stories had been written about 17 years old finding themselves after 20 hours in command of a Spitfire setting of to go and take the enemy out. But for these men it meant everything. They were tasting flight…

After most conflicts had settled down wars seem to be less around. Warfare has also changed tremendously in that fewer personnel are required. Now, I am definitely not for war but, wars aided in training many people in various fields that would otherwise not have been possible.

After the Second World War many surplus aircraft and pilots were around. A living had to be made as work was not readily available. But these mostly men needed to satisfy their desire for flight, so what did they do? They acquired the retired military aircraft and started barnstorming, crop dusting and started small airlines. Some of these Airlines succeeded and are still around to this day.
The years moved on, flying became more expensive, the military trained pilots became less. But the desire for flight still needs to be satisfied. In today's world you find many young men and woman holding down up to three jobs just to pay their way through flight training. They pay their own way, taking any opportunity to fly and once they succeed the hopeful dream of finding a job. But no matter what anyone says they will succeed, they will fly as the desire to taste flight is too great. I take my hat off to these folk as I was there to. I still cannot satisfy my desire for flight. In some way this compares to the many people I have mentioned above…

Many of us grow up with airplane pictures on the wall, re-enacting cockpit or flying scenes with toys. I watch my son do this and yep, he will probably fly to. How does it start at such a young age? Didn't everybody want to be police, fire man or even train drivers but yet the mind reverts back to flight?

Here are some of my favourite times spend flying,

For me an early morning departure is awesome, just watching the sunrise or even better a late afternoon departure, just about dark, a Jet climbs so fast that you climb back into daylight.

Or aerobatic flight, tumbling around the sky, who would imagine that not doing aerobatics for a week makes me grouchy.

Popping out on top of cloud and getting the sensation of real speed...

Or just sitting at altitude and admiring the view. It always amazes me, how something small in the picture changes and once the next aircraft comes past the picture has changed quite a bit. So right fully I can say that the picture you saw is the only one in the universe observed…?

Even just sitting quietly in the hanger and admiring the beauty of the art work exposed to me…

I often get asked which my favourite aircraft is. Well it is difficult to say it all depends on what I want to do that day. For example a Boeing 737 is useless for aerobatic flight However a 737 is a technological marvel… And there is no such thing as an "ugly" airplane. Some are just prettier than other.

So what is it about flight that we find so fascinating that the addiction level is so high?

What makes us come back for more?

So, why do you fly?


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