Snug in the cockpit, I go by the numbers – Pre-taxi checklist complete, altimeter to three zero point zero five,
rpm to seventeen hundred, check carb heat, mags, vacuum and mixture; flaps to fifteen, radio to one-two-one point nine and transmit:.
“Ground control, this is niner-eight-three-two Uniform, departure heading two-niner-zero for twelve-thousand five hundred, ready for taxi”.
On the centerline now, engine instruments check all in the green, accelerate to seventy-eight knots and rotate to flight.
Gear and flaps commanded up, fuel to auxiliary, prop to two thousand, easy does it, hold ninety knots into the bank.
“Roger, tower, transpond one-four-zero-zero, left turnout, watch for traffic at my three o’clock.”
Finally I climb through twelve thousand feet and call departure control:, “Roger tower, thanks for your help, g’day, sir.” Radios to off…
Alone now In an ocean of sky
Intense blue above, brilliant cumulus to my side and below,
I am Lost in space. Reconnected with the Universe.
My body, in visceral contact with the ocean of air, moves the wings as an extension of itself, climbing, rolling, diving through the billows.
Splitting three dimensional space, I chase the swirling shards, navigate infinite galleries adrift in the interstellar medium.
Half the sky below me, half above, I am home.
But what is that? Yes, there, down below, a hapless Cessna cruising west.
Pitching over into the dive, I recite from an old Robert Duval Movie: “I am the great Santini, coming to visit you, out of the clouds, unannounced.”
After the pass, I snap to the right and pull away, just far enough behind my victim that he won’t notice me….
Three more gentle rolls into the sunshine, and…reluctantly, Radios on –
“Approach control, this is niner-eight-three-two Uniform, five miles out with the numbers, inbound.”