Home <firstname.lastname@example.org> Last updated Sunday, 2013-11-03
I trained in a two-seat Cessna 152 and would often use the short (3000'x75') PAE runway 16L/34R. PAE sits at about 600' elevation on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound. The many tall Douglas Firs along the edge and downslope of the bluff is prime nesting territory for predatory birds such as Ospreys and Eagles. Bald Eagles are BOLD and have no reason to fear anything they encounter in the air. On one of my early solo visits to PAE and a few times thereafter I shared the air with a mature bald eagle which unlike myself was totally unconcerned by a meager 50 foot separation from my little plane. We flew so close I could see the hook of its beak and the yellow of its eyes. It coldly looked me over then lazily banked, caught an updraft, and climbed slightly to pass above and behind the plane.
It is a corny title but it is a reminder that we are just clumbsy visitors to that Eagle's natural domain.
I had a personal epiphany. We all intellectually know that life is ephemeral, fleeting, short, unexpected, indeterminate, and a precious gift. However, we often do not act as though we know it. I had always wanted to learn to fly. From my teenage years, then again in my early thirties, I thought about learning to fly, but somehow never got around to it.
In August 2000, my father, a healthy and active man of 74, destined to probably live another 20 years, fell off a ladder, hit his head and died in a matter of hours.
Did I mention that life is ephemeral, fleeting, short, unexpected, and indeterminate?
Earlier in the summer of 2000, a long time buddy, Gregg, mentioned that he was in flight training. We fantasized briefly about my learning to fly and then buying a plane together. The next year, late summer 2001, Gregg had gotten his PPL-ASEL (Private Pilot License - Airplane, Single Engine, Land), and mentioned jokingly that he was going to look around for a plane for us to buy. A few weeks later he called and said that he had bought the plane. Now after my father's plunge, and having truely learned the lesson that life is ephemeral, fleeting, short, unexpected, and indeterminate, I decided to take my own plunge, and started flight training in November 2001. The plan was to get my license and then buy half of Gregg's plane.
On 11 October 2002, coincidentally my sister's 40th birthday, I passed my FAA checkride, learned the secret handshake and passed into the brotherhood and sisterhood of aviators. On 01 November 2002, I bought half of the airplane.
My only regrets are that I didn't start 20 years earlier, and my Dad isn't here
to enjoy it.