Friday, May 8, 2009

Come fly with me

When I was younger (and newly married) I thought I wanted to be an airline pilot. Knowing that they don’t hire airline pilots out of Community College, I decided I should join the Air Force to gain a little experience first

The Air Force put me through a practical examination to determine if I would make a good pilot – I passed the Navigator part but failed the Pilot part. I was told to try again in six months. By six months I was working for a bank repossessing cars and having the time of my life!

Over the years it has come to my awareness that flunking that Air Force test was probably a good thing. I would have made a lousy airline pilot. For one thing, I don’t have the ass for it. I can’t sit for more than two hours without my butt aching down to my knee caps.

Another thing that pilots do, that I am clearly not good at, is following directions. I want to know if there is a different (and possibly, better) alternative. The first thing that pops into my head when people say to do something this way is: “why”? After stealing cars for the bank, I became an Operations Analyst (Efficiency Expert). That job was damn near as cool.

Still, I always maintained an interest in aviation. I am fascinated by flight and always take the window seat when flying commercially. I really got into flying virtually on an on-line version of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Online computer jockeys fly in controlled airspace, with lots of other pilots and ATC (Air Traffic Controllers). We use real-world charts, real-world flight plans, and follow real-world procedures. I have a really comfy computer chair… still, after about two hours, my ass begins to hurt.

But another aspect of virtual online flying revealed a third reason why my pursuing a flying career would have been a bad idea – it’s boring. Really! Apart from take-off and landings, the flying part (done mostly on autopilot) is mind-numbingly boring.

My wife and I just returned from two weeks in Florida, one week of which we were on a Carnival Cruise ship. This was one of my best vacations ever. The worst part of the whole trip was flying between home and Florida. Feeling my ass go numb in those uncomfortable seats is bad enough; the TSA has made air travel into a nightmare. Thanks a lot, Al-Qaeda, for f#*king that up for us. And now this last trip cost me $90 just to check my bags! It used to be free.

I probably won’t live long enough to see Star Trek style “transporters” replace the unfriendly skies. Too bad, I’d pay big bucks to be “beamed” to my next vacation spot. -- Scotty: “Energize”!

1 comment:

Just Me said...

Well, yes I must agree that packing has become a complete challenge, since the toiletries that fit perfectly in my "carry-on" bag have to now go into a checked bags (all those super dangerous liquids), then I have to pay extra to check the bag I would have gladly carried.