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Friday, July 4, 2008

An American Pilot flying on the 4th of July




7-4-08
America is unique in many ways and certainly one of the most special and precious is the freedom to fly. As I think back over the years of flying aircraft I can recall a few flights taken on the 4th of July and I can recall the surge of feeling which arises when flying and seeing fireworks displays. One memory stands clearer than all the others.
It was the mid 1980’s and I was flying from San Diego north through the LA basin. The plane was a Grumman Tiger, an AA-5B, an aircraft with exceptional visibility through the bubble windscreen and the side windows, despite the low wing which often can block a view. The day was warm and the departure from Gillespie field was just after sunset, which put us inside the Los Angeles basin well after dark. We were flying low and wide, to skirt the Class B Airspace (A TCA to those of you who flew with the older designations). Flying under the shoulder of a controlled airspace is best accomplished by charting a distant landmark and a nearer landmark that create a line clear of the controlled area, So that you can keep your eyes outside the cockpit and just concentrate on holding your altitude and enjoying the view as you stay on track on your courseline.
This technique frees you to keep a maximum lookout for other traffic, which is easier to see at night than in the daytime since you need only look for anti-collision, landing, and navigational lights. This also means your eyes are drawn quickly to assess moving lights, and on this evening, with clear nighttime air, fireworks displays popped out in stark contrast to the black hills to the east of the valley.
The effect of seeing the displays all around us, in front, to the rear quadrants and to the sides both near and far was inspirational. My passenger and I were Americans, flying an aircraft on our own, in free and clear skies and seeing the celebration of that national freedom surrounding us with dazzling and sparkling displays of lights, bursting and shimmering like rapidly blooming and fading flowers of brilliant light.
Soon we were through the valley and on into the darkness of the terrain enroute to San Luis Obispo. The radio chatter was nearly gone and the sights to look at were nearly non-existent, so much so we were using the instruments as much as outside reference to aid our VFR flight into the black night. Above us the stars filled the sky and my only thought for a while was the good fortune I held as pilot controlling an aircraft in flight.
The instrument panel glowed with a warm red light and the white wings caught the alternating flash of the anti-collision light from the top of the vertical stabilizer. A deep breath in and a long gentle exhale while I soaked in the scene around me. My wish was that others might be able to feel the sense of incredible satisfaction, joy and a calm resolute peace which comes at such a moment, a moment I am certain occurs more often for pilots than anyone else on earth.


onward & upwards!


r. bremmer

1 comment:

Manoj Kumar A.P said...

I am very proud to say that your flying machine like tha..also interested to know more about flight