A Pilot's Perspective.

By Barry Meek.


You never forget your first love.   That’s what they say.   But it really is debatable. It may have been a woman who said it.   Women are more intuitive, sensitive, and in many ways, more intelligent than men, but they seem to get all mushy and gushy about stuff like that.   They keep old love letter stashed away in boxes.   They talk to each other about how their “first” made their heart beat faster, butterflies somehow got into their stomachs, how it was meant to be, and of the one that got away.

Personally, and I think I speak for most men, it wasn’t like that at all.   But that’s only if we’re talking about the first love of a woman.   Switch topics to airplanes or cars, and most men will tell you all about their first loves, and in great detail.

The act of flying is of itself, something born of love. Pilots don’t keep old letters stashed away, but we’ll often keep the books. “From the Ground UP” comes to mind.   Many of us still have our E6B flight computers, our first headset, the Raybans, and an old flight bag.   When you talk about love, the only exceptions to pilots who apply it to our passion are the airline guys who would describe love as the score of zero in a tennis match.

C-FUFU panel


Like so many others, I learned to fly in a Cessna 150. It was slow, didn’t climb fast, wouldn’t carry much weight or go too far.   But then, it didn’t matter.   I was flying.   I was enjoying my first love.   My first car was a Volkswagen.   A 1959 Beetle.   It too was slow, didn’t accelerate fast or carry much weight.   But it didn’t matter either, because I was driving.   That was another first love.

Years passed, cars and airplanes came and went.   I drove and flew more powerful, faster machines, logged many hours and miles.   I worked as a driver and as a pilot The “love” I felt initially somehow faded, but you keep on doing it because it’s turned into a career, or more of a necessity.  

We eventually reach a point in life which has been known to be described as a mid life crisis.   That’s when guys will go ahead and buy something they’ve overtly or otherwise, craved and drooled over for years.   The Harley Davidson motorcycle, the sailboat, the sports car.   Some of us will go shopping for an airplane.   For me it was a natural move to want back into a Cessna 150.   Not just because it was so familiar ... there was more.   It brought back memories of long ago.   That airplane represented freedom and a giant step toward manhood. Learning to fly was one of the most important and exhilarating things I’ve ever done.   Back then and even today, the ability to control an airplane and soar above everything and everybody somehow elevates the mind and spirit as nothing else can.  The little 150 unlocks that for me, and therefore draws me back to enjoy the ride.   It’s a great little plane, and I’ve owned or been partners in several.

Cars are another source of expression for the mid-lifers.   For guys who express themselves with four wheels on the ground, often they will revert to something from the past.   And it could be back to their first love.   The ’55 Chev.   The ’63 Pontiac.   Maybe a 57 Ford.   For me, it was a ’59 Volkswagen.  Not brand new, not fast, not even classy back then, it didn’t matter.   It was wheels.   I was mobile in high school, and that meant a lot to me and my friends.   Times have changed too for the modest little Bug.   Today, there are hundreds of fine examples of restored VW’s which sell for many times what they were worth brand new back in the ‘60’s and early ‘70’s.   Most are owned by fellows who, like me, have more than just a casual attachment to them.   They have history, and even spirit.   Carmakers today are cashing in on that with “retro cars”, vehicles that resemble those from the past.  

In our society today, it seems important to own items that represent more than just utility.   We’re spending our cash on memories, items that have the spirit of our youth woven in.   Airplanes and vehicles, having played such a huge part in the shaping of our lives, will always be in our future, particularly the ones that were a part of our individual past.   It’s really not the actual machines, rather it’s what terrific things they did for us, for our egos and our spirit,   that we’ll always remember.   Our first love was the emotion, and is what we’ll never forget.   

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