Top 100 Things I’ve Done – #18

Top 100 Things I've Done Add comments

Fly in a two seater.

I was 20 years old and sitting shotgun in what felt like a small pickup truck with wings. We were parked on a short runway somewhere in northern RI. As she prepared for takeoff, my 19 year old pilot-friend was giving commentary on her actions, but my attention was fixed on comprehending this little hunk of aluminum taking me thousands of feet into the air and then safely back to the ground.

When we had first walked up to the plane, I touched the wing and it almost knocked the thing over! At this, I knew I was in for a different kind of flight then the ones I’d taken before.

When the engine started, it sounded like a 2 stroke lawnmower at first. Eventually it smoothed out and the nearly deafening sound of the wind competed with my thoughts. With a little alpha beta wacka data clearance from the “tower”, we were bouncing down the runway. If you’re ever gone too fast in a golf cart, you know how it felt.

About half way down the run way we were up….then down. Then up again! Then down a bit! Then up! Oh man.,..this was fun. I’m smiling, I’m laughing, and I’m tearing the leather off the seat with my clenched fists. It didn’t even feel like we were going that fast when we finally took off…maybe 80mph or so, but nevertheless…we were airborne.

We cleared the trees and imagined what they would feel like coming through the windshield. We drove over a road and imagined having to use it as an emergency runway. We took a sharp turn and I saw myself falling out the door, which may have well been paperclipped shut it was so rickety. yes, it would be safe to say I was a bit scared.

That faded quickly though. Once I got use to the gusts of wind blowing us around like the plane was made of paper, I was able to enjoy the views and the awesome feeling of flight. It’s a feeling I’ve never had in a jumbo jet, or even a small charter plane. In bigger planes, the restricted view makes it feel more like watching a TV screen than flying.

We climbed, we dove, we turned sharply…I even took the controls for a bit. The response of the craft was surprisingly quick. With a slight push, I could inject the sensation of falling into my stomach.

My absolute favorite thing about flying, which is the same even from the window of an airliner, is the perspective it gives me. Being so high above the earth, with everything looking so small….reminds me that it is.

It was easy to imagine that it was only me there, flying alone…having complete control over what clouds to aim for, which way to turn, how long to dive.

Often the question comes up, “if you could have one super power, what would it be?” I always answer flying. And this might be the closest I’ll ever get.

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