Late last night Earl mentioned to me that there was an airplane crash about 15 miles north of the house. He asked if I knew the pilot. When he saw my startled look he realised that I did indeed know the name. Jon was a super nice guy. Soft spoken. A pretty strong advocate for the general aviation community. He did not survive the crash of his ’46 Luscombe yesterday afternoon. May he fly amongst the angels.
The loss of any pilot weighs on my mind, especially if I know the pilot personally. We defy gravity after mitigating any risk to the best of our ability. We should always take that extra step to be as safe as possible as we dance amongst the clouds. When my dad was alive and reviewing crash reports, he’d always say “pilot error, 98% of the time it’s pilot error.”
As pilots we are trained to respond appropriately to catastrophic scenarios while airborne. Our reaction should be instinct. Your airplane has just turned into a big glider and do what you’ve been trained to do to glide safely to the ground. Sometimes there’s simply not enough time to react fast enough. We do what we can do. When we takeoff we know the risk. And yet we defy gravity. Because that’s where our heart leads us.
Jon’s passing yesterday weighed heavily on my mind all day today. I didn’t know him particularly well, but we had chatted many times. He had shared his adventures with the flight club. He had a passion that was very familiar. He seemed like a good sort.
I had an instrument lesson scheduled for today. The weather was clear in every direction. Wind was nearly non-existent. A small part of me was looking for a reason to not fly but a bigger part of my head said, “you have to fly today.” So my instrument instructor and I went up and flew and I nailed the practice instrument approaches to our airport. If I could just get past the book studying and the written exam I’d probably be a hell of an instrument pilot. I’m almost there. Almost.
Determination. It’s like getting up on the horse that’s thrown you across the pasture. We do have what we have to do.
And then we soar some more.