Man Was Meant to Fly
“If man was meant to fly, he’d have been born
with wings”. How many times have we heard that from a non
pilot, or from someone who’s afraid to fly? Even from someone
who’s afraid to admit he’s afraid to fly.
Clearly, man WAS meant to fly. We also
swim beneath the surface of the water without having to come up
for air. We travel at warp speed, see in pitch dark, observe
through walls and flesh, keep warm in sub zero temperatures,
listen to sounds hundreds of miles in the distance. Pretty
amazing considering we begin life as tiny, helpless, unseeing,
soaking wet bundles requiring absolute and total care.
But more important, we were all born
with a brain. The wonders of the human brain include its
ability to form and shape thoughts, ideas, concepts, and to make
decisions. Undoubtedly the most complex life form on earth, the
brain is man's ticket to accomplishing all we do.
Emotions are formed there as well.
Emotions called anger, love, pain, and excitement are all part
of this highest form of life. Without emotions, there would be
no one flying, or swimming, or traveling, or doing any of the
things that enhance our lives. That’s because we do all these
for the excitement, the emotion they create in us.
Passion springs from the enjoyment and
excitement of an activity. We hear that word, passion, so often
when we talk about our leisure hours. Boredom is overcome by
our passions, whatever they may be, from gardening to
photography, writing to making wine, and of course by airplanes
and flying them.
Orville and Wilber Wright were
passionate about flight. We’re lucky they were! But if it
weren’t for them, someone else would have taken up the cause,
and in any case, there’s no doubt we would still be flying
today. The time for flying had come. There was enough
knowledge around back then to accomplish it. All that was
needed was the passion and excitement to put it all together.
Many wonder, “What’s next. Where do we
go from here?” The futurists have their own ideas, and there’s
nothing more interesting than a documentary featuring their
forays into the years ahead. Aviation magazines are full of
what’s happening and what’s coming for the future of flight.
For many years, navigation aids like GPS platforms were featured
and talked about by everyone. Then came the glass cockpit
concepts, along with electronic engine and flight monitoring
equipment. Advances in engine technology share the spotlight
these days. Turbines and diesels, even electric motors may well
be in our future in a big way.
In just over one hundred years, we’ve
gone from the Wright brothers to supersonic airliners, vertical
flight and space travel. Even with all this progress, when you
remove the cowling from your general aviation airplane, you’ll
find technology that’s over 50 years old. The engines in the
largest portion of the GA fleet are still the old Continentals
and Lycomings. It’s like we’ve taken these giant steps forward,
but with the other foot we’ve taken only baby steps. One side
hasn’t kept pace with the other. A good thing or a bad thing?
That’s really a separate question. Many pilots feel much safer
behind one of these engines than something that’s newer and not
yet a proven design. On the other hand, it’s been asked, “How
can technology that’s 40 or 50 years old be as reliable as
something developed in the past few years?” With new
materials and procedures, manufacturers should be capable of
building an even better engine.
There is no doubt that aviation, like
all technologies, will continue to change and advance. It may
have slowed down a tad, reached somewhat of a plateau in the
last few years, but there is evidence of it taking off again.
There will always be people with a terrific passion for making
things better, and that includes those in the field of
aviation. As long as we have emotions like “passion” and
“excitement”, this progress will continue.