|Posted by Aaron Harrington on April 30, 2012 at 6:05 PM|
Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated with airplanes. Like many other people, I wondered what kept that big heavy machine in the air. I knew that the air kept it up but I didn’t know how. It was like magic to me. As I grew older, my curiosity only increased. I always wanted to keep learning about them. I would look at pictures, read books and magazines, drew them, and even dreamed about them. My infatuation grew and I went to college to become an aerospace engineer. I wanted to learn everything I could about these fantastical machines. In graduate school, I had had enough waiting around, and I dove in head first and started learning to fly. I had been up for rides in small airplanes before, but never able to sit in the pilot’s seat. I remember how surreal it was hearing the controller say “Cleared for takeoff, runway 33 right” and my instructor echoing the phrase back over the radio as we taxied onto the runway and lined up. He let me take off, all the while, his hands still assisting with the controls. The rush of adrenaline I felt as I pushed in the throttle and accelerated down the runway was nothing compared to the point when we pulled up, and the wheels left the ground. I was up in the air and flying an airplane. Only 15 hours later, I soloed. My instructor stepped out of the airplane and said “Don’t forget to come back down and pick me up! Good luck!” My heart raced and as I left the ground, all I could think about was “I am flying an airplane by myself! I am flying an airplane by myself!” The feeling as the wheels left the ground hadn’t diminished.
My family and fiancée laughs at me because I take every opportunity to turn every conversation into ‘airplane talk.’ I can’t help it and I try very hard not to annoy them with it, although I probably do. My favorite thing to do, is to take my family and friends flying, especially my friends who have never been in a small airplane before. I want them to feel the magic that I still feel. Even to this day, I get that adrenaline rush the first time the wheels leave the ground. It is like my first flight all over again.
The ground shrinks away around you and everything is transformed. The familiar houses, stores, roads, and people, all look different, even at 500 ft. The world rotates around you as you bank and turn. Everything passes under you and at that moment, the only cares you have are inside that airplane with you. Nothing else matters. It is you, your passengers, and the air. This is why I fly. So when people ask me why I love aviation so much, I can say “Come with me and I’ll show you.”