Looking Down at the World

It’s an interesting feeling, watching the world from the cockpit of a small plane. I used to fly. I even lived at a small airport for a while. Any old (air)port in a storm, as they say. When I lived at the airport, I usually flew in Cessna 152b trainers. They are small planes with two seats, a high wing design, one propeller, and a 108 horsepower four cylinder engine. They fly at a speed of about 80-110 miles per hour, and they weigh around 1500 pounds fueled. You can easily tow them on the ground without help.

I loved flying in those little planes. We rarely went out at night, and of course we always had rules of safety and politeness so we would avoid annoying people on the ground. Of course, by that I mean we didn’t want to annoy people on the ground, but I suppose you could read that the other way, that we also avoided the annoying people who were on the ground!

Either way, we didn’t fly too low, or in certain areas where it might be safe, or too close to man-made objects.. I learned how to do all kinds of things in the air. Various kinds of navigation, different turns, staying steady with my course, crossing hills or mountains safely. The world flattened out, hills looked insignificant, and suddenly roads were just valuable navigation landmarks. I’d look down at the freeway, see the cars crawling there like ants, and laugh like a loon. “I’m up here!” I’d cry. “You’re down there!”

Towns and fields, forests and waterways all spread below me. One of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen was at six thousand feet, above the clouds It was like flying over a sparkling white plain, with hills and clumps of puffy white and nothing but the blue, blue sky above. That was glorious! Another beautiful sight: a night flight, with a full moon in the sky and the wing gone silver with the light.

When I was new to flying, the sight that amazed me most was simple. The left main tire, in its fairing, sitting just below and next to my window. I’d seen that wheel touching the gritty pavement as I’d started the plane and taxied out to the runway. Now, below it, there was nothing under it but a thousand feet of space. That, and green fields, hills, rivers, roads, and a whole world to be flown over.

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