I Remember That Day in Aviation
We all get Facebook memory notifications, I guess. Most of the time I find them to be either a moment for a fantastic eye roll, or alarming because of how much time has passed since the event being presented. Thanks Facebook, now I know it’s been a decade rather than four or five years since I was in that bar with that coworker. And why did I think that hair look was a good idea? Nice. But then, an aviation student pilot Facebook memory. Recently I was reminded by Zuckerberg et al. of the day I took my private pilot written test. However, it was more than that. I was moved to reflect on other aspects of the day and while unamused by most Facebook memories, this one was a welcome reminder of more than met the eye. It all began with one picture.
Before I Really Knew
At the specific moment the photo was taken, I had never taken an FAA written test before. Having not yet passed a written test or failed one either, I was still in the territory of knowing about but not actually knowing. I also thought about the fact that someone was there to take the picture. My wife took the photo, and she was there along with her mother, sister, and brother-in-law. What a gang. They didn’t have to do that; it wasn’t particularly convenient for them — I am touched. I thought of flying solo to the testing center, the approach and landing, all that. I remember feeling a bit of anxiousness, but only a touch. I was being tested in more than one way. It’s the thing great memories are made of. As I recollected other things not readily apparent in the photo, the experience of taking the test came to mind. The FBO smelled old and was decorated in a celebration of discord. I chuckled to myself as I remembered the proprietor’s big dog lapping water from its bowl just outside the testing room door. I was fine with it. Everything in aviation had seemed rather ole fashioned. Although comfortable with technology, change, and advancement, I tend to like history and historic things. This testing experience seemed to hearken a time when things were not so officially — up tight?
How I Landed There
My instructor preferred to time it so students could fly solo to take their written test; I no longer remember his reasoning. If it was to build confidence, that certainly was the ticket. Had I failed the test, the flight back home would have been long and dreary. Thankfully, the flight back, with passing grade in hand, seemed to be infused with an extra helping of lift, thrust, and general excellence. As I began to return to the project I was working on before being sidetracked by the memory, I thought of how I’d come to be in that plane, landing at that airport, taking an FAA Private Pilot Written test. I recalled JD who kept saying, “why don’t you get your license,” perhaps not too unlike an absurd criminal plot when repeated enough, might begin to sound reasonable. Eventually you find yourself deep in the underworld of the lawless wondering how you got there. Ungrounded, as it were.
One Picture — Thousands of Memories
Recently I turned on the mileage column in my digital logbook. Sometime last year my total nautical miles flown surpassed the total distance around the earth. That doesn’t really mean much; aviation experience is measured in hours. However, the personal journey and subsequent memories seem rather on par with the profundity of the 21,639 nautical miles around the globe. Just as I was about to really get back to work, I had a moment of appreciation for my wife’s relative fearlessness once upon a time in Tucumcari. I’ll write about that someday. Traveling back in time via our logbooks is pretty easy; they serve as a veritable diary. But this memory was via a picture on social media — worth more than simply a thousand words, but a little over twenty-one and a half thousand nautical miles.
What an adventure — and this is only the beginning.
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