Why do some people fly?

By Peter Kelly

Why do some people fly is a tough question to answer.  It really is different for each person, because when I say “fly”, I’m talking about you alone controlling the aircraft and not relying on anyone.  It really doesn’t matter if you are actually alone in a single place ship, or you are at the controllers of an airliner with hundreds of people behind you.  In either case, you are in a environment where your skill is what is providing you enjoyment as well as keeping you and everyone who may be with you safe.

It may be easiest for you to understand why some people fly if you listen to others.  Let me Goggle the subject of “my first flight” and show you some some random quotes that are on the internet….

Fly as a Passenger

Here’s a person on a commercial flight….

…….after the plane taxied onto the runway and got into position to accelerate down the runway, I started feeling quite nervous and excited at the same time. The plane started accelerating and it was not at all smooth as it looks on TV. The plane was shaking and I could feel the vibrations from the engines… I was like sh** !!!! and was internally screaming in my mind. The feeling at that time was quite exhilarating. And then the plane took off and I relaxed after that.. whew !!! Now I feel like laughing at myself recounting that experience.

There are lots of comments and postings about “flying” on commercial flights – but that’s not what I call flying. That’s using a plane for transportation.

Here’s a young person documenting the heck out of his “transportation” experience….


I list that link to that young man in the Philippines just to try to illustrate the internal excitement that some people feel when they are just going to travel as a passenger on a commercial bird.  He does a nice job of sharing his excitement. I wonder if a person with that much appreciation could deal with taking a ride and being allowed to pilot the ship on his first flight.  He probably couldn’t contain himself.

Flying as a Pilot

Being a Pilot is what flying is all about.  “Flying” is when you control the machine.  You and you alone – using your skills keep the ship in the air.  That’s the “flying” that I’m talk’n about.

Here’s someones blog entry I saw on the internet – a genuine “my first flight”.  It’s amazing that his preparation spanned over two and a half decades of his life – from age 12 to age 38 – not an uncommon story.  This is his first flight in a glider – he’s a Brit, in case you can’t tell by the writing style …..

My first flying experience.  Ever since I was young, I wanted fly a plane. At the age of twelve, I’d built several model planes. Somewhere along the way that just became one of those forgotten dreams of youth.  For my 38th birthday my wife bought me a glider flight, and now that I’ve had a taste,that dream is reborn! I have always been fascinated by flight. It just seems so incredible to me that gliders can stay in the air for hours. On my first flight after we had taken off, I was given control of the aircraft. Although shaky at first, flying the aircraft was not as difficult as you would expect (I’d spent a lot of time reading up on flying gliders and flew on a simulator on a PC). The first time I flew into a thermal I was amazed. I could feel a slight bump as the aircraft entered the column of rising air. My instructor took over, he circled in the thermal and the plane started to climb. He explained that one of the dials in the glider measured how quickly the glider was rising. The glider was going up at 4 knots or 400ft per minute! I think the instructor must have been in a good mood, because we climbed to 4,000 ft in the thermal then explored the countryside. The view from the cockpit was amazing.  read more here…   http://www.glider-pilot.co.uk/My%20first%20flying%20experience/My%20first%20flying%20experiance.htm  ….and he goes on and on from there.

A first flight is like a first girlfriend (or boyfriend) ( after you have reached maturity).  You are excited physically and mentally, don’t understand the feelings, but you like it. You spend the rest of your life trying to re-experience and improve on that first time around.  That’s how I describe flying.  It’s just one of those amazing activities that some humans are privileged to experience.

It’s not for everyone, I readily agree on that.  I’ve taken hundreds of people for rides in gliders, and scores of people in small power planes and thousands on commercial jets.  I know for a fact that some were terrified, while others were bored.  but there were those few who had the right makeup, and they became hooked on the sport of flying, from the first moment they had that control stick in their hand. That’s the kind of people that fly gliders.

And, even all glider pilots are different.  I really don’t comprehend how some pilots can keep coming out to the airport to fly their glider, but they never fly cross-country.  No doubt, they have taken it to a level where they remain comfortable.  Same could be said for me (since we’re talking personal opinions here).  I find that serious competition sometimes requires me to fly lower than I am comfortable, or to take routes I might otherwise not take, etc., thus I limit myself as to how much I participate in serious competition flying.  And, before you even ask…. let me say that most pilots are very competitive, thus it is always serious. The degree of how serious is the only question at hand.  Most pilots call it “fun competition” when we are pretending it is not serious.

All of that simply illustrates that it’s different for every person.  One final illustration is this: I have known at least three tow pilots over the past 20 years, who I regularly flew with, that confided that they would never fly cross-country because it was just too scary.  Too much risk for them to imagine ever doing it.  Just like “flying” is not for everyone, flying gliders cross-country is not for everyone either.

Each to his own.  You participate in enjoyable activities to satisfy yourself – not others.

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