Thursday, November 03, 2005

Gorgeous Morning

I'm writing about this much later, but I just don't want to forget it. It was, I'm pretty sure, November 3, 2005, my second morning flight with Rich F. I met him at 5:00 or 5:30 a.m., and we were off the ground before the sun came over the horizon. We flew northeast toward Westminster. The late fall, early winter sky was clear blue, dark in the West and brightening quickly in the East. Fog lay in the hollows of the land that passed underneath. It was still dark down there, but at our height the sky was brightening and we could see clearly in the pre-dawn light. The sun peaked over the horizon as we flew toward Westminster and rose above the horizon as we practiced maneuvers 2,500 feet over the late-sleepers below.

Then during a clearing turn I saw the most beautiful thing, it took my breath. The sun was low, but above the horizon, to the east-southeast. On the ground below it, like a footprint, was a bright red-orange neon glow, a V-shape like an arrowhead pointing directly at us. It was a piece of the Chesapeake Bay, 25 miles away. The sun was reflecting off the Bay-- I can only imagine that the Bay was glass-smooth in the early morning, because the glow of the Bay seemed as bright as the sun itself. It was amazing and beautiful, and I guess that there was nobody else to see it-- only from the cockpit of a small airplane for those two minutes, at 3,000 feet msl over Westminster, Maryland. My instructor and I were silent for the minute or two before the angle of the sun had changed and the neon arrowhead was gone.

That morning was instrumental in giving me the motivation to keep going with flying. Learning to fly is frustrating. It's hard to get it right, there's a lot to absorb, and the constant delays can make it seem futile. But flying is a privilege, and what I am seeking is the privilege to go up and see those things that are withheld from all but the few who can go there. Going places is important and attractive, but seeing things that take my breath away is what I'm really working toward.

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