Casselton, North Dakota.
This week, Jen H. shares a great photo of a true friend, her dog, Claire. She writes, “The beautiful thing about friendship is that it transcends language.” You can read the entire challenge post here.
A bit over two decades ago, as a man in a middle-age crisis, I decided to learn to fly. Aviation was an interest since my youth, but family, work demands, and funds (or lack thereof) kept me from being involved in that interest. With the children finally out of the nest and a bit more free time and funds, I took the plunge. At the age of 48 years young, I was given a license to commit aviation. In the process, I met several people who I now call my friends. Though the folks I feature in this post are my friends, that is not the relationship that this post is focusing upon.
The two photos I feature here are of people who are friends of aviation. When they fly, they become friends with the equipment they fly. Glider pilots must truly be “one with their aircraft” and the fluid environment around them. In the photo above, my friend Jay has just departed from our local glider airport, under tow by a single-engine aircraft connected to a 250-foot (76 m) rope. Typically, after a tow to about 3,000 feet (914 m), the glider releases from the tow plane and it is now up to the glider pilot to become close friends with the vagaries of up- and downdrafts in the swirling currents of air that continually act upon those long glider wings.
In the photo above, another longtime friend, Walt, is on landing rollout after having spent some time in the act of aviating. I have flown with both of these pilots in powered aircraft and gliders and I have seen them truly become friends with the large chunk of aluminum and other bits we call an aircraft.
As a pilot, I know that feeling of friendship that can develop between human and machine. On land, on the water, or in the air, those who put themselves at the controls of a moving vehicle must develop the skills that allow the pilot to sit comfortably in silence and simply share space with their mechanical friend.