Something this girl has just got to do

18 11 2011

There are some days when a girl’s just gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Like today, for example. Today, I just had to go fly.

Not because I had to get from point A to point B, and not because I had to quickly get some more flight time under my belt (or in my logbook) because my license or my rating expires next week. None of that. I just had to go fly, well, for the love of flying.

A little snippet of heaven.

The ocean of fog that envelops Zurich for most of every autumn lifted briefly this morning, and for the first time in what seems like a month, crystal-clear blue skies dominated from horizon to horizon. Wow! The sun! It’s still up there! Let’s go touch it, why don’t we?

I decided to trek up to the airfield for probably the last time this year, before the first winter storm puts the grass strip under 2 meters (6 feet) of snow.

HB-CFF is a trusty old bird who has accompanied me across this country and back already. She’s small and snug, has just two seats and is about the same age as I am, but handles like she just came off the Cessna production line. I wasn’t planning on going far, I just wanted to test my landing skills… I wanted to train, to practice, alone. To be aware of every rote task I perform in the cockpit as if I had never done it before – but with the self-assurance of a pilot who has done it a million times already. I would fly a few circuits around the airport and the region while enjoying the sunset and the Alps in the distance.

My ride had enough fuel and oil on board to take me over the mountains to Italy if I had wanted her to.

I took off to the north, and as I climbed into the open sky, I saw in the distance a fresh wall of fog, getting ready to roll back in my direction. The sun perched precariously on the peaks to the west, as color slowly bled out of the scenery below me. The blue hour was approaching fast.

The special thing about today’s flight was that there was absolutely nothing special about it – except for the spectacular view. It was routine, uneventful and safe. There was no weather or crosswind to speak of, just one or two others using the runway, and the visibility stretched clear across the central Swiss lowlands. It was simply magical.

Every time I fly I am reminded that there is no place I would rather be than in the cockpit, looking at the world from above.

After five gentle touch-and-gos, my confidence in my landings reinforced, I taxied back to the hangars and shut her down. It was quiet up at the field, already completely in shadow, with only the deep clanging of cow’s bells echoing across the valley. Six aircraft, finished with their duty for the day, were lined up in two neat rows.

Waiting for tomorrow’s adventures.

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6 responses

18 11 2011
Rebecca Stanfel

Your writing makes me want to fly too (and I hate flying).

I love your descriptions. I love that what made the flight special was that there was nothing special about it. That’s quite a fabulous metaphor for life.

Glad you landed safely and uneventfully. Keep us posted on your next adventures.

Rebecca

18 11 2011
Evelynn Starr

Thanks Rebecca. It really was “just another day” in the cockpit of a small airplane. I consider it part of my mission to convince those who hate flying to be a little more open to it, and to give them a taste of my joy. And hoping to get a few converts! 😉

18 11 2011
bradwynalek

I have always wanted to get my pilots license. Maybe I should pursue it. Thanks for the inspiration. Cheers!

18 11 2011
Evelynn Starr

Hey Brad… Thanks for your comment. All I can say is YES!!! DO IT!! I think that was the single smartest thing I have ever done in my life. There is nothing quite like piloting your own airplane. The world, and all its problems, are so very very far away.

23 11 2011
Marianne

I had no idea you were a pilot. I have deep respect for anyone who has the patience to become a pilot!

23 11 2011
Evelynn Starr

Thanks, Marianne… but really it’s not that hard… raising three kids is harder and takes waaaayyyy more patience…. 😉

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