The Border between Land and Sky  

Dowd3 42M
45 posts
6/7/2006 8:07 am
The Border between Land and Sky

I want to fly. I grew up on the Great Plains and the great unexplored border was forever over my head, blue and vast. Those who live next to the sea probably feel the same draw to them I feel for the sky. Since I've never lived next to a large body of water (the local puddle was a bit larger than a football field and it took hours of driving to reach anything more substantial) I won't make a fool of myself by comparing the sea to the sky any further. Strange to admit I've only flown once and was sick to my stomach for the entire time (just ate breakfast and climbed into a tail-dragging Cessna.)

I once had ambitions of joining the Air Force, but my eyes, lungs, and feet kept me out. The Army said they would take me, but they were forever sidestepping the chances of me flying so I turned them down.

In the meantime I've learned a great deal about airplanes. In fact a research paper I wrote when I was a senior in High School was circulated by an uncle of mine around Rockwell to the general approval of the engineers. Three years later I saw the concept I outlined in theory wind up on the cover of Popular Mechanics. Incredibly I saw another variation of the same thing in the movie Stealth last year (the Talons are the same plane-form I described fourteen years ago.) Brilliant minds think alike I guess.

But all that still leaves me on the ground. My interest has shifted to much more practical designs. Turning an OV-10D Bronco into a civilian plane interests me. Small, practical bush planes are drawing more of my attention these days if for no other reason for their accessibility. Owning a Thunderbolt or a Corsair also holds some appeal, but those are too expensive to buy and operate.

I know I should make some move towards getting a pilot's license if I ever intend to realize these dreams, but money is the great leveler to my ambitions.

Of a more sobering nature is the reality of air travel in a post 9/11 America. I'm not entirely familiar with the new rules imposed on small planes, but if they are in proportion to the hoops the airlines have to jump through, they must be formidable indeed. The careless drift of years past seems to be abandoned in favor of security, and I'm not sure we are worse off for it.

The kind of flying that attracted me is the kind Warthogs trained for. Just imagine it. Racing across the ground and shaving the rocks may not seem to be leaping into the wild blue, but borders are the definition of my fascination. That border between sky and land has a texture and life no other place on Earth has. It has dips and canyons. Places where the land challenges the sky and suspend a plane below the horizon. The highest reaches are good for speed and esoteric vistas, but dammit you have to get down there to understand why we are drawn from our footing on the ground.

In some ways it's like a relationship between a couple. Distance only makes the dilemmas appear easier, while getting down to Earth becomes overwhelming. So why soar so high every time you spread your wings?

What are the borders that draw you?
Is the pull of the sea like this?

We are forever drawn to things like this like we are to each other. Emotions run riot for dreamers, so let the dreamers answer.

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