The warm breeze gently ruffles the t-shirt on my back, I could be facing a very pretty sunset but I choose instead to stare out to sea towards the island of North Haven, away from the setting sun. I can feel the last of the sun’s warmth on my back as I face the sunlit clouds to the east back-dropped by a beautiful, but quickly changing sky. It has been a wonderful spring day worth remembering and my mind does it’s best to take in every sight, sound and smell to relive for another day when I’m not so lucky. But I don’t have to relive it today, today I get the luxury of the day’s beauty first hand–a late April day started by the most amazing sunrise and capped off by an equally brilliant sunset. In between these bookends lies 14 hours 12 minutes and 9 seconds filled with remarkable views and some wonderful flying, all stored away neatly and concisely in half a dozen photos and a line in my pilot’s logbook.
As I stand here enjoying the sound of the peepers singing one of my favorite songs from childhood, I can’t help but think that just minutes before I was slipping gracefully through the same sky I was looking at now. I had just picked up a school teacher that was returning from Matinicus, an island off the coast, bringing her back to the mainland. I knew it was my final flight of the day and I planned on savoring every second of it, as was my ritual on the last flight of the day. During that return flight I was looking down at this very same point of rocky coastline that I’m standing on now; a point of land confidently jutting out into the cold Atlantic waters of the Gulf of Maine. But now I was just relaxing with my thoughts and thinking how differently it looked from above compared to what I’m seeing now.
If I could be in two places at the same time and one of me was in the plane looking down on this point, while the other was on this point looking up at the quickly passing plane, I would see two very different views, even though each would be at the same general location at the same exact time–and yet each would be captivating in their own beautiful ways. Which perspective would be more enticing? Which view would be more rewarding or memorable? Which would most people care to see if they could only choose one? No matter really, I don’t have to give it much thought because I was fortunate enough to see both and they were each equally inspiring, not needing the other to stand out. But if I had to choose, if I was forced to choose, flight will nearly always win out–that goes without saying. Flying is just woven into the fabric of my life, I’ve never known a life without it. There is just something that cannot be described with words alone when flying, one has to experience it for themselves to truly be able to understand it.
I’ve always felt fortunate for the flying I’ve been able to do and memories I’ve been able to make. Once again I was able to do just that, fly and make memories. Fortunately one lucky school teacher was able to see, and feel, the same views I did while we soared together, a foot apart, smoothly along at a thousand feet above this beach. Although she saw the same views I did it’s probably safe to say she did not feel the same emotions that I felt–there are just too many variables involved and we all look at things differently. She may not even remember the flight’s details–although I hope and pray she does. It’s not every day we get to do the things we love, and see the beauty around us from a vantage point given only to the birds. For me the days events are added to the hundreds, more likely thousands, of memories I have of flying. Someday it’ll be all I have. When that day will come is anyone’s guess but I’m not waiting to find out, I’m filling those empty spots in my mind with as many memories as it’ll hold so when the time comes to replay them I will be able to relive each and every one.