I waited all year for my two weeks of home leave. But things got truly toxic at the office, many folks were off fishing or cruising, and I had to go back to work. Meetings abroad on Christmas week, conference calls on New Year’s Eve.
I did fly for two days, with friends. In the first week of 2012, I called Carlo and told him I was tired of flying with passengers. I wanted my copilot.
On the ground, Carlo is not the most graceful person (some of his university students may dispute that). I tease him about being the second clumsiest person I know.
In the airplane, Carlo morphs into an artist. He starts as a conductor — meticulously procedural as he tunes the airplane for flight. At takeoff, Carlo slips past the curtain of ground haze and ascends to an aerial stage, bands of light and shadow wheeling around the cockpit.
Responding to his fingertips, the airplane pirouettes, the engine sings, the instruments wind through orchestrated scales and bars. The horizon dips, leans and rolls. Straight and level is for train drivers; Carlo and I FLY.
In past years we pushed north to the Cordilleras and tracked coast-to-coast across Luzon. This year we performed our repertoire at home. Polishing, not exploring. Stalls, over and over until they became pitch-perfect poetry. Arcing chandelles, twisting 400 feet higher in a single 180-degree turn.
For two days we exercised the airplane vigorously, getting 720 kilograms of aluminum, fuel and father-son airborne from just half the runway. An hour of aerobatic adagios and petite allegros specially choreographed for the Cessna 152 followed. Then, as an encore, we touched down softly on the threshold, wake vortices applauding.
All too soon, the flying days were over. It was time to go back to the crush of email, conference calls, lesson plans and research papers.
Memories of our flights are starting to fade as I return to Bangkok. They will never leap off these pages as intensely memorable flights, laced with glamour or punctuated with drama.
Instead, our aerial art, nearly a month ago now, was a tapestry of emerald green rice fields, friendly radio calls from pilot friends and readers who recognized our voices on 118.70 Mhz, and our own giddy laughter as we banked into 2G turns 1,500 feet above Earth, a million miles above its travails.
“I’ll do the next one, Dad.”
”I have it, Carl.”
”Dad, I’m already on it.”
”I have control, Dad.”
”Let go, Carl … .“
So I honor the memories of those flying days as healing days. Father and son days. The medicine will wear away, in the years to come.
“I’ll take the left seat, Carl.”
”Dad, we’ll put you in the right seat.”
”Left seat. And call me ‘Captain.”
”Here you go, Dad, right seat, don’t kick the wheelchair.”
”This is the copilot’s seat, this is for wimps!”
Posted from Bangkok, January 22, 2012
Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai 恭禧發財