15 August 2010

Real Flying

They call us Kerosene junkies. We love flying and airplanes. Most of us are frustrated pilots - absent the mentality and skills to be come one. Other lesser forms exist like Anoraks - you can't miss them they hang around at the end of a runway.

When I was in college I tried really hard to become a pilot. I took all the right courses and then failed consecutively in the following places:

The Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm
The Army Aviation
BOAC/BEA intake at Hamble in Southampton.

At least in the latter one they agreed to interview me. Must have been a slow week. So I traveled along with other potential cadets. As we took the bus to the dorm room for the night my heart sank.

"Yeah I have my IR (Instrument rating) last year - had my PPL for 2 years already." said one clean faced chap who looked like he was 12. "It's such a bore - I love flying but Balliol and rowing are such a rush..." said a Sean Connery look alike with slick back hair. Most of the others had already done things like being in the Air Cadets. My claim to fame was a piece I had written largely modeled on a PR package from Boeing in Paris.

I managed to hold my own during the day - the old Link Trainer was cool. The written tests were very straight forward. I think I did the interview OK. So the last test of the day as the sun had already gone down was the hand eye coordination test.

In this you have two maps of circles connected by lines. You have a pen in each hand (Biro!) and you have to listen as clicks and snaps are in your ear and a sound that indicates to change direction on the paper. Well that didn't last long before I lost it. So too did almost everyone else. Except some of the guys were extremely calm and just started again. After less than a minute I ripped off the headphones and gave up in disgust.

I still had one more attempt, I tried to join as a Steward (that's flight attendant to you and me - a la Chute Slater). I think I failed because I told the interview lady - a rather stern spinster with graying hair but immaculately turned out like she had just come off the set of Mad Money - that I wanted to get into management and how this was just a stepping stone for me. Two of my friends who went with me got the job and actually flew as Stews for a number of years.

And the point of this story? Well this week's New Yorker has two great pieces on it. One by David Sedaris - who is a VERY funny guy is not visible online. If you ever get a chance to hear him on NPR or in person - go - he is just funny. The other is a story about a New York based photographer who likes to literally fly free form. I tried this once. What a rush... jumping off into the air - in my case onto a bed of snow - was one of the coolest things I ever did as a 20 something. For some reason never did it again but I have a strange poloroid of me literally flying.

And you know... Flying is cool. Really Cool.


No comments: