I have been thinking for quite a while now that flying isn’t fun anymore. Certainly, it’s challenging, and mastering challenges has its own rewards. But reviewing weather, filing flight plans, flying higher, faster, into more complicated airspace, and for transportation across the country isn’t really fun.
Flying for business is a great tool, too, but, really, it’s just another part of work, especially when on a schedule and with lots of things on the mind. I think I’m beginning to understand why some pilots who fly for a living don’t fly for recreation.
Last week, I was thinking about missing the airport, even though it is mostly deserted, not the FBO where passengers wait for pilots and where ground crews pull my plane and marshal me from the ramp. The real airport where pilots hang out and shoot the real breeze instead of the electronic kind. The airport where old planes live patiently in their hangars asleep but waiting for someone to fly them.
I miss flying a biplane and look at the ads from time to time. I’m also a partner in a seldom flown Decathlon. I looked in my log the other day. It’s been 7 months since I flew it, and then only for an hour. I’ve been busy certainly, too busy in fact, and lining up a great VFR day with my schedule isn’t necessarily easy.
So, this weekend I promised myself I’d go flying in the Decathlon, and I did. Two beautiful cloudless days with favorable winds and no work that couldn’t wait. It is so unbelievably simple! The preflight is personal. Everything is slow including the taxi and takeoff. No programming. No clearances. No blasting through the altitudes so fast you never notice the ground.
I flew with a friend to breakfast yesterday at 1,000 AGL. Feeling the wind as well as seeing, smelling, and hearing the plane. Slow, leisurely. FUN! Coming back, my friend flew, and I looked at the ground from the bird’s eye view I’d almost forgotten…
This morning, early, before anyone else was at the airport, I had the place to myself. Practice maneuvers and air work first. Yes, I still remember how to fly! Then, pattern practice, going around and around squeaking it on, and leaping off the pavement again and again. Simple. Easy. Not challenging, but Fun!
I remember now why I wanted to learn to fly in the first place. Why I’ve hung around airports since I was little. Why I always look up when I hear a plane. Not to go somewhere but to be like a bird in the sky. To be a pilot and fly.