This is a very belated Valentine’s Day post.
A long-term relationship with aviation is a lot like a romantic involvement with another person. There’s attraction, a first date, and excitement.
Some flying relationships don’t last forever. Priorities change, the passion dies, and the inevitable drain of financial and emotional resources doesn’t deliver the same excitement anymore.
For a few lucky people, though, the love of flying develops like a steady marriage. Even though it’s the hundredth, or thousandth, time seeing the rolling shadowy forest canopy from above, or the moonlight sparkle on a black diamond ocean, or a blazing sunset aloft turn the whole world into glowing liquid gold, there are subtle differences each time and no day is ever quite the same as any other.
There are still storms, delays, breakdowns, and even emergencies bringing moments of sheer terror. But the happy marriage is based on understanding instead of raw attraction, commitment instead of bare promise.
Heading home into one sunset, high in smooth cold air, with baby finally sleeping peacefully in the back seat and wife looking contemplatively over the world almost a mile below, it would be easy to take the moment for granted. I could think it is no longer beautiful because the novelty has worn off and it’s not all that unusual for me to be taking my wife and daughter for an airplane ride. But in so doing I would miss the greater truth.
Instead of taking it for granted I savor it now so I can have it again later, in my memory, when the bills and the office can’t be avoided and the winds and rains keep me away from this peaceful place in the sky.
I am lucky to have this peculiar set of skills, which lets me see the sun sink in molten gold and spin the whole world around me on the tip of a banked wing. I’m luckier, still, to have a wife whose love is of understanding, and whose only caveat to my flying is that I take her with me.