The Liberty Gazette
May 31, 2016Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: We have a special treat for you this week. We’re honored to welcome William Dubois. He’s penned some thoughts for you on flying.
All you need to know this week is that he’s a commercial pilot and ground instructor, has a degree in aviation and is a professional aviation writer whose work has appeared in AOPA Pilot, EAA Sport Aviation, General Aviation News, FAA Safety Briefing, Flight Training, Flying Magazine, and Smithsonian Air & Space; and that he flies a 1947 Ercoupe, a two-seat airplane weighing only 750 pounds, including it’s 85 horsepower engine.
While the Ercoupe is not a speed demon, we know you’ll enjoy his humor and his appearance here will become clear next week.
Flights to nowhere
By William E. Dubois
I have a confession. I hate flying places.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love to fly. Just not as a form of transportation. I find that flying to somewhere specific, generally called a cross-country flight, is the most boring kind of flying in the world. It’s like driving a bus. Well, more like driving a bus and cramming for a mid-term exam at the same time.
A cross-country flight of any distance at all requires all sorts of planning. You need to study your route. Figure out where to buy fuel. Read half a dozen weather reports. Look at the charts to see where the restricted airspace is. Study airport diagrams and rules. Jot down frequencies.
And once you’re in the air, you need to stick to the plan. If you see some sort of interesting distraction you want to investigate, you just threw your fuel management plan out the window. And of course you also need to fly more precisely. You need to stay on course.
Frankly, it’s altogether tedious, and if I really want to go somewhere it’s easier to just hop in the car. Faster, too, sometimes. Just the other day, thanks to a headwind, I was barely able to travel over the ground at 70 miles per hour. And of course, once you get somewhere by airplane, you’re stuck at an airport, often with no way to get to the nearest town.
The flying I love is to just get up in the air and explore my greater back yard within a 45-mile radius of my home field. I like to see the play of light off the ground. Watch eagles ride thermals off my wingtips. Fly up some canyon I’ve never visited or check on my favorite lake to see if the island in the middle is smaller from the recent rains. Other times I ignore the ground and fly just for the feel of it. The wind in my hair. The tug of gravity in a steep turn. The endorphin high of defying gravity.
This kind of seat-of-the pants flying doesn’t require much, if any, planning. You can wake up in the morning and say to yourself: I think I’ll go see the surface of the globe from above today.
A flight to somewhere will only take you from point A to point B, and in a rather boring fashion, at that. But a flight to nowhere is a flight for the soul. It doesn’t take you to a specific place; it transports you to a state of mind. A beautiful state of mind.