Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth

Allow me to introduce you to Captain Dave:

Captain… May I ask for a ride home, sir? 

Who dares talk to me like that? Twisting in my seat, I see a kid in a pilot’s uniform. A pretty little female, shiny brown eyes, about 15 years old. I began to tell her she has to ride in her assigned seat in the back… The pilot outfit is kind of weird, but in today’s society, nothing surprises me.

Sir, here is my stuff. 

She hands me her airline ID, and other pertinent paperwork. Date-of-birth is 1990. As my British friend Trevor is fond of saying, hang about… I have shoes older than that. I tell her to quit calling me sirand then ask her a few questions about her aircraft (Dash 8-Q400). She gives all the correct answers. Obviously a smart kid to be co-piloting, at her age, a large turbo-prop for a regional carrier. She is small and petite, the perfect size for the torture jumpseat. Plus, she will add some badly needed class to this flight-deck.

On the downside, the rest of us will need to behave and act like gentlemen, if that is possible.

Radar returns…

The digital multi-scan radar is in MAN mode, antenna tilted a quarter degree down as I look at slices of the storms. They bubbled up fast, changing from rising columns of moist air to planetary scale atmospheric water pumps, complete with their own power source… Fearsome creatures of the night. Their tops punched the tropopause with ease and are spreading out in the stratosphere.

Over at two o’clock and 100 miles, a sucker hole… About 30 miles across. But, there is a reason they are called sucker holes. When I was a young night-freight pilot, I found out the hard way. That’s a story for another post… Maybe.

Turning the end of the line…

The lightning flashes are intense and continuous as we five high-flying metal birds turn the end of the line. Bluish-white, spherical explosions of electric light illuminate the storm clouds and our flight-decks. The storm’s outer skins are covered with brilliant electric webs that undulate in the thin, high velocity winds of altitude. It is a sight that few see in their lifetimes. There are no words…

Words fail me- I grew up around the world of flight, and never missed a chance to squander my opportunities to join that fraternity. That is one of my great regrets.


High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God. 

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941