Plane & Pilot
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Reflections On Inner & Outer Flight

Reaching beyond self-imposed limitations

guestWhy are we so fascinated by flight? What draws us to it? What makes flight so special? Have you ever laid back on a summer’s day, looked up in fascination at the clouds above, and wondered what it would be like to play among them? Have you ever sat on a hill or a beach and watched the birds soar by? Do you wonder what it must be like to see the world from their perspective and feel the freedom they must surely enjoy? Have you ever stared out into a starry night sky in amazement at how small it makes you feel? Do you dream about exploring the vastness of the physical universe? Do you remember your dreams? If so, do you remember flying in them?

I believe that most people have experienced all these things on some level. Regardless of whether you actually get to experience them in the physical or do so only in your dreams and imagination, the only way to truly realize them is through some medium of inner or outer flight!

There’s something special about flight that can’t be found to the same degree in any other endeavor. Is it because it’s uniquely three-dimensional? Maybe. Is it because we have to leave the natural confines of our flat existence and defy an unseen force? Maybe. Could it be because we must break free of the bonds of our own limitations? Possibly. Or could the longing we feel be from something we’re not conscious of…a longing to return to something forgotten? Hmm?

Something about flight brings out the childlike wonder, amazement and sense of awe we all have within ourselves. It’s a shame we sometimes suppress or cover this up with unfortunate layers of growing up! I sometimes wonder if that childlike wonder is a more authentic expression of our true selves, but one we all tend to wrap limitations around over time. Maybe our fascination with flight is an ideal way to tap into that expression from a socially acceptable adult level?

I learned a long time ago that not everyone likes airplanes, but everyone has a fascination with flight! And why is that? I believe it taps into our very core, whether we’re conscious of it or not. Whether or not you’re a pilot; whether or not you enjoy flying—everyone can relate to the metaphor of what flight symbolizes, as flight, more than anything, is the most profound metaphor for pushing our boundaries, reaching beyond ourselves and attaining freedom. This not only applies to the outer physical worlds that surround us, for we all relate to reaching for the sky and the stars, but also applies to the inner worlds within us, for we all relate to soaring in our imagination and flying in our dreams. I believe flight, more than anything, resonates with the core of our being and taps into something beyond our current conscious level of awareness.

While flying aerobatic competitions, I came to realize that aerobatics was one of the more profound expressions of outer flight. This was reflected in how I continually looked for ways to improve the performance of my airplane. I always was striving for a faster roll rate, a better power-to-weight ratio or a better vertical performance. Whether it was up, down, sideways, right side up or upside down, I looked for every possible way to go beyond the airplane’s limitations. Later, I realized this was an expression and a metaphor for myself—for I always had the potential to go beyond myself, and in any direction as well.


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