Plane & Pilot
Saturday, May 1, 2004

Flying Is Exercise

Being a hangar potato is actually hard work! No, really!

Until recently, I was convinced that the only exercise I get is pushing a computer mouse around between trips to the refrigerator (it’s a rule that periods of procrastination can only be interrupted for fridge trips).

Last week, however, while defending myself in a conversation with a student who insisted golf was good exercise, I arrived at a startling realization—I actually do exercise, but it’s disguised as flying.

First, you have to understand the necessity of me defending myself in the golf conversation. As I’ve often stated, golf is one of those things I just don’t get. Yeah, I may be in a minority on the golf thing, but to me, it just doesn’t measure up to making beer cans jump 300 yards away after a resounding bang and a slap to the shoulder or breaking blood vessels in the eyeballs while doing high-G, outside maneuvers. I mean, that kind of stuff makes sense, right? Punishing a dimpled ball while wearing questionable attire doesn’t.

Anyway, while I was preflighting the airplane, my student was waxing eloquent about the benefits, physical and emotional, of golf. He continued talking as I pushed the airplane, with him in it, out into the sunshine. (I preflight in the hangar with the student in the airplane so he doesn’t turn into a crispy critter in the process—this is Arizona, remember?)

The perfect comeback to the golf lecture came to me while pushing those big doors shut after walking back to the hangar and realizing how much exercise I’m getting in the act of flying. But I had to prove my case.

So, let’s analyze this flying exercise thing and, since I’m coming up on TBO on my engine (the fourth one), we’ll base the study on 2,000 hours of flying. Also, each hour represents one flight, which is a perfectly accurate profile for the kind of flying I do.

We’ll look at the exercise value of hangar doors first. Mine split at the middle, and to open them, I have to push each door back 23 feet. And after bringing the airplane in or out of the hangar, I pull the doors closed. That’s a total of 92 feet of door-pushing and I do it twice for each flight. My fingers dance across the calculator and—holy sweat beads— that’s a shade over 69 miles! In the course of wearing out this engine, I’ve walked 69 miles while pushing a heavy hangar door. And I have neither a caddy nor a golf car to do it for me. Yikes!


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