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The Lure of Flying

October 16, 2016

I find that I’m drawn to stories of flying, even though I’ve never been a pilot, and seldom even flown as a passenger.  Why is that?

I was interested in model airplanes when I was a kid.  I built models with balsa wood, tissue paper, piano wire, and rubber bands turning plastic propellors.  Some of them even flew.  One even had an 049 engine.  I recall testing that engine in the basement of our house.  Indoors, it made an aweful noise.  The plane only flew for half a circle before crashing into the ground and shattering into pieces.

My father was a flight instructor in world war 2.  He started off flying a Tiger Moth,  moving on to Harvards and Ansons.  A Tiger Moth, by the way, was a biplane with open cockpits and primitive instruments.  He logged thousands of hours in the air.  He trained thousands of pilots, who went on to fly fighters and bombers in Europe.  I recall hearing him tell many stories of his adventures in the air.

A few years ago, I started running Microsoft flight simulator on my computer.  I learned a great deal about flying during my sessions with that simulator.  I practiced takeoffs, landings, and even stall recovery while I was following their lessons.  Even though I had never flown a real plane, I felt like I had.

I also read all the articles on the web that are about aircraft incidents and crashes.  I’m especially interested in articles about crash investigations.  The official report on a crash often comes out years after the crash.  By that time, the news media have lost interest in the crash, moving on to some new story.  I’m still interested.  I like to find out the official cause of the crash.

I’ve never been a pilot, although I know a few things about flying an aircraft.  I do sometimes fly as a passenger, mostly in large commercial jet aircraft.  I have flown a few times in small propellor planes.  Most recently, I flew from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk in a Twin Beech.  I’ve only flown on a vintage plane once.  This was a short flight on a Douglas DC3, a twin engine plane with a tail skid, built in the 1930s.  I suppose the reason for my interest in flying must come from my interest in Engineering and Technology.  I can’t think what else it would be.


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