Thursday, June 30, 2011

Long Overdue

Something you may or may not know about me is that I have a well-deserved reputation of being a bit of a smart ass. In fact, many who know me would find the word 'bit' arguable. I also suffer from the lack of the ability to make sensitive comments when required. I'm simply terrible at it, with the result being that when presented with the need to do so, I either dissemble, make the attempt and more often than not makes things worse, or make a joke.

None of those are exemplary testaments to the quality of my character, but we are what we are. And I am an insensitive lout. Thankfully I know that about myself and work around it. Have you ever heard that ironic response to someone's litany of woes? The one that goes something like, "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" I would say something like that, but without the intended irony. Really, it's that bad.

I share this because there was a guy that I used to work with that was very interested in flying, and in particular, flying with me. Since everyone gets a blog name, I'll just pull one out of my hat and call him JT. He had asked me for a ride on a number of occasions, but through lucky timing there was always something going on with the airplane that allowed me to honestly say that it just wasn't possible at that time. I had to do this because I was afraid to honestly confront the real issue, which was that he weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 pounds. If you've ever seen or sat in an RV-6, you will realize that it simply isn't the kind of airplane that has room for someone of that size. But rather than just come out and say that and risk hurting his feelings, I was always able to make an honest excuse.

My luck was bound to run out, and eventually it did. He asked one day when there was absolutely nothing in work on the airplane, and I finally had to tell him why it couldn't be done. As it turns out, he was scheduled for surgery that would bring him down to a weight that would be suitable for the tight confines of the RV-6. I happened across a recent picture of him on Facebook the other day and it was clear that he had had the surgery. I asked him what his new weight was and found it to be within the parameters required. I was finally able to offer him that ride!

He came by the airport this evening and we went for a nice ride down south a little bit. The weather was terrific for flying; we had clear skies, light winds, and it was only a little bit hot. I walked him though the preflight and explained everything that was going to happen once we were ready to fly. I like to do that to avoid any unpleasant surprises like I once had with the woman that was shocked and dismayed to learn that I had to bank the airplane to turn it. She asked that I not do that - I had to inform her that we didn't have sufficient fuel to reach Los Angeles and would need to make at least a few turns to get back to the airport.

When we reached a sufficient altitude, I offered JT the opportunity to take the controls for a little while but he declined. That happens now and then and it's just fine with me. I never insist on doing anything in the airplane that might make a passenger nervous or uncomfortable (with the notable exceptions of things I have to do like turn, or land) and I have had plenty of people turn down the chance to fly, but it always saddens me a little. I figure that letting someone fly an airplane, even if only for a few brief moments, is one of the most incredible things I can share with a person. To me, it is a gift of unimaginable magnitude to allow someone to do something that only a vanishingly small percentage of people throughout history have ever been able to do. To give people the opportunity to be able to say for the rest of their lives that they flew an airplane once, well, that's the single most sublime and meaningful gift I can give.

Even without that, though, he had a wonderful time and I could tell that it was something he had really wanted to do. I'm thrilled to have finally been able to satisfy his desire for a ride in my little airplane. And just look at that smile!

1 comment:

Steve said...

Very cool - offer him a couple more rides and maybe, just maybe, you'll have a buyer for the RV!

Unless I missed the fact that you've already sold it, of course.

Post a Comment