|THE ADVENTUROUS LIFE. Airplanes offer pilots a gateway to adventure that’s often inaccessible by other modes of transportation.|
Elsewhere in this issue, we’re bantering around the phrase “adventure aircraft” as if it’s a universally understood term. Personally, I’m not sure it is. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think the term “adventure” itself is open to definition and is very much colored by your aviation life and how you live it—one man’s adventure is another’s ho-hum afternoon.
My desktop iDictionary defines adventure as “daring and exciting activity calling for enterprise and enthusiasm.” But there again, both “daring” and “exciting” can be defined in many different ways. If you ask the average nonflying man on the street about the concept, you can be certain that he’ll see anything to do with flying as having more than a modicum of daring and exciting attached. In fact, to your neighbors, you probably look pretty daring just because you fly (and it has nothing to do with the goggles and scarf you always wear), because flying is way outside the norm. Once you step inside the arena of aviation, however, the concept of “normal” changes.
First of all, being off the ground in what civilians would judge as a potentially hostile environment is, within aviation circles, judged as normal, so adventure starts from a different datum; from a ground-bound perspective, our entire aviation life is lived within the realm of adventure. If it’s normal to us, however, what do we do to add adventure? Here, too, it’s relative.
When you’ve spent your entire training career in a C-152, moving up to a C-172 or C-182 is high-adventure. Squeaking between the trees to put your lowly C-152 on a rural, out-of-the-way strip, however, also qualifies as adventure because you’ve gone where you’ve never gone before and done what you’ve never done. In fact, any obvious step out of the norm, even a long cross-country, earns you an adventure merit badge.
Anyone who has flown for any length of time remembers their favorite adventures, so, like everyone else, it’s natural, when I look back, that some flights jump out above the rest as having had a higher adventure factor.
Everyone’s initial solo sticks out in their mind: I can still see my instructor, Ron Epps, in Lincoln, Neb., down on his haunches at the edge of the grass runway facing away from me, as if he had no worries, as I brought the throttle up and stepped over the threshold into the new life that awaits all newbie pilots.
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