I was encouraged to start flying lessons by my father, who was heavily involved in passenger aviation for a few years. I have already been instructed to show him a few things once I get my licence, so there is probably a small element of vicarious living on his part. I also suspect a bigger reason is the same reason why parents send their children to join Scouts or summer camps – to expose them to a broad variety of experiences, keep them busy, and build character.

In fact, in my bookshelf I have a copy of a Scout Handbook from the late 1960s. Among its many topics – first aid, building campfires, cooking in the backwoods, backwoods shelters, rope knots, is also a chapter on airmanship. This leads me to believe that once upon a time, learning to a fly a plane was No Big Deal. That, or the Scouts of the 1960s were all aspiring secret agents.

As for myself, I fly for a few reasons. First – it is quite an intellectual and physical challenge. I hope to describe some of this challenge in subsequent posts.

Second, it seems poetic to learn the fundamentals of the technology that has played such a large role in my personal history. My father traveled a lot for work, and as an immigrant I traveled, and continue to travel frequently to visit relatives.

I remember getting small plastic gold wings and the kits with colouring books handed out to children to keep them occupied before the onset of inflight entertainment. I remember trying to reproduce Saul Bass’ famous United Airlines logo in crayons (Now sadly retired). I would be a completely different person were it not for our ability to displace ourselves to the other side of the world in the duration of a poor night’s sleep.

Finally, airplanes, radios, engines, slide rules, propellers, et cetera are gadgets, and I like gadgets!


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