In January 2008, over a year ago, Carlo finally flew with Meynard.
How time flies! I remember every moment — watching him taxi away in the Decathlon with Meynard, and again in the Cessna 152. And then watching him taxi back, cool as a cucumber, both times.
Carlo wrote about it four months later, April 2008, in Bangkok.
It is now April, 2009.
This article, the first of four parts, written beautifully by one of my favorite writers, is a year old. Waiting to be published on a special occasion.
Today is the 2nd anniversary of Flying in Crosswinds!
Read twice that paragraph about flying on autopilot, near the end. It hits you the second time.
I have to admit that the thought of flying with Meynard intimidated me.
A self-made man of astonishing talent and admirable character, Meynard was someone I didn’t know what to make of at first.
I’d heard from Dad how demanding he was as an instructor, calling for precision and certainty of oneself at an extreme level that made all my previous flight instruction seem lax by comparison.
His intensity, and the way he had channeled it into every rating I could think of (helicopter, glider, instrument, commercial, ATPL, aerobatics, etc.) was something I had never seen before — or since.
Dad had been urging me to fly with him and let him correct any bad habits and fill in any gaps I might have in my mindset and understanding of aerodynamics.
It wasn’t until early January last year that I finally went.
Like most of my flying experiences, it proved to be much more than what I had expected.
This blog entry is overdue, I know.
It has been a busy year so far, what with little things like a breakup, graduation, farewells to old friends and making new ones and finding someone who might turn out to be more than a friend and figuring out what to do with my life.
I’m amazed I was able to shoehorn any flying in at all.
Very time-consuming, this business of growing up. It seems that all the grown-ups I know (I don’t quite count myself as one yet; call it denial) are in a perpetual rush, always in a hurry to do something and be somewhere else, running after security and the strange things grown-ups seem to be obsessed with.
Not many take time to smell the roses, and fewer still take risks to do what they really want to do. Dad has issues with the former. I helped talk him into doing the latter.
He outlived his Dad. Passed the mark just a week ago. I’m not sure he expected to. Today, he’s healthier and happier than ever. Fulfilled.
It’s partly the flying, I suspect. It’s one of the things he was meant to do. He wishes he’d started sooner. I’m glad he started at all.
Ever read Jonathan Livingston Seagull? It’s an old story about an outcast with tremendous talent who was born to instruct. He pursues it, finds fulfillment, and makes a contribution that rocks the world he lives in.
My other favorite book is by the pilot-author Antoine de-Saint Exupery. The Little Prince‘s title character and his friend, the wise and friendly fox, remind us that what is truly important is invisible to the eye. I’m glad Dad decided to go for the Invisible Important Thing.
Right now, I’m reading about Antoine de-Saint Exupery.
They finally found out who shot him down, a young German Messerschmitt pilot who was shocked to discover that he had killed his idol.
I wonder if Exupery had any regrets, plunging down, down into the Mediterranean.
I doubt it. He followed his Prince’s advice, after all.
It’s important to go for the Invisible Important Thing. You never know when that Messerschmitt will pounce on you, guns and cannon blazing.
I’m thinking of Ernest Gann now, and how the Messerschmitt, or the heart attack, or the missing elevator balance hinge bolt, or the last stroke, always gets you in the end. How will you fly before it does? On autopilot?
Meynard doesn’t fly on autopilot. He goes straight to the most basic, important things. In life as well as flying. I’ll leave it to more capable wordsmiths to share his life story, but he does fly the way he lives.
His friendly attitude won me over and put me at ease before the flight. Nearly. As we walked out to the hangar, I got my first paradigm shift of the day.
Written April 12, 2008
Posted from Manila, March 31, 2009