Sometimes the answer to all of life’s problems can be found in that one place your worries can’t get to.
It’s been a rough week for me. It happens. I’m lucky in that there’s nothing unsolvable or that can’t be out-waited, but still, these things can cause stress. There’s a lot of talk about how we pilots need to be careful about flying when we’re under a lot of stress, and I take that advice seriously. When pilots are under the gun we tend to make mistakes, especially procedural ones, and push circumstances, particularly when it comes to weather decision making. No shockers there. We all know this.
But what you seldom hear talked about, even though we all know that this is true, is the opposite—that when you’re all stressed out, sometimes the best thing you can possibly do is go flying. Yeah, I know, this is terrible advice. When you’re upset, everyone knows you should stay home and fret about it in private.
Or you could go flying.
Yesterday I did the latter, and it was the best. I got a chance to fly with two old friends, one an airplane I hadn’t flown in about a year, and the other, a person I hadn’t gotten a chance to hang out with in about a year.
The weather was really crappy. The ceilings were low, the visibility was restricted, the temperatures were hovering in the low 40s. There was even a little wind. Just kind of a yucky day.
But as soon as I climbed in and buckled up, ran through the checklists and taxied out, things changed. I was in the zone and I felt transformed. Now, when you’re taking off into a ceiling that’s at landing minimums, you don’t have time to do anything but fly the airplane, and I did. I felt a little of the leans, as I often do, and I completely ignored them and flew the flight director, as I always do. It was a little bumpy, but as the yaw damper kicked on at 200 feet, it was already like we were on rails. It didn’t just feel good. It felt right. I was where I was meant to be, doing what I love to do, and there was no room anywhere there for anything that didn’t fit into either of those two little boxes of what was right and what was good.
The flying was fantastic. We managed to accomplish a lot on the flight, including a couple of squeaker landings, a successfully executed lunch and a return trip with an approach to ILS minimums, with those landing lights looking so bright and so right.
And it was hard to think anything but that I was in exactly the right place in this world and by the way, thank you very much Orville and Wilbur.
Happy pilot, out.