Plane & Pilot
Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Time Flies

Tomorrow has a way of becoming yesterday entirely too quickly

As I’m typing this, my little red airplane is in the hos-pital for a 100-hour inspec-tion that is going to cost nearly 1⁄5 of what the air-plane is valued new. Every time the phone rings, it’s another one of those $1,000 calls. Yesterday, I was in a funk when I figured out that I would have to fly it another 100 hours just to pay for that inspection and then it would be time for yet another inspection.

I was miffed because it was totally rebuilt only last November, and they should have caught all that stuff. No, wait…it was the November before that. Yeah, that’s right…no…it was the November before that. I had to sit down when I realized that 21⁄2 years have zipped past since it taxied around the hangar and I got my first glimpse of my nearly new, just rebuilt, old (1974) airplane. Let me see, 21⁄2 years, that’s—my mind knew the number, but it didn’t want to calculate it—close to 900 hours in the pattern! No wonder stuff was breaking. My little red darling was wearing out. What does that say about me?

This problem of not being able to figure out how long ago something actually happened is becoming just a bit terrifying, and I’ll bet money that I’m not alone in that. In my mind, for instance, I moved to Arizona a year or two ago. That has to be the case because I clearly remember turning final to the wonderfully smooth grass runway at Andover, N.J., on a regular basis just…how many years ago? Oh, yeah, another of those mental time warps—it was over 13 years ago.

How can so much time pass by without my realizing it? I have only to look at my grandkid’s father to know that time is absolutely whizzing past. Scott is 32 and Jennifer is 28. That makes me…never mind. But it’s worth noting that one of the few staples of my life that predates my kids is my little airplane. Okay, not this particular airplane, but the exact same model has lived with me since September 1971.

Actually, 1971 doesn’t seem that long ago either. I clearly remember climbing into my brand-new bird after it was ferried to its new home from Wyoming where it was born. Thirty-four years later, I’m still looking at exactly the same panel and bare tubing, and I’m still slipping around the corner from downwind in search of that elusive perfect landing. I haven’t found it yet, but once in a while, one of my students does. And that’s just as good.


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