I wanted to get some perspective from someone who’s been there, done that.
Ted is one of those pilots with 15,000 plus hours that has flown most everything. First he started flying General Aviation light aircraft. Next: Hazardous military experience piloting Huey slicks and gunships over Vietnam. Then: Migrating to flying offshore oil rigs in Trinidad. Afterward he spent the majority of his career flying jets.
He’s even flown George and Barbara Bush.
I posed the question whether aviation was still “fun” once it became a routine. Below are some of his “reflections on flying” :
It was almost always fun.
I’ll give you some quotes by T. West in an old Road & Track article about race driving that I carried with me throughout my career in the air:
- “—there is something thoroughly gorgeous about this manipulating of physics for precise, difficult ends.”
- “The pleasure comes from knowing that, instant to instant, you alone are responsible for your decisions.”
- “—bending a car or bike through a corner forcefully, accurately, in fully orchestrated control, is fundamentally a way of expressing beauty…..because to have done it very well is observably, palpably handsome.”
- “But there is this other addiction, too, the addiction to doing hazardous things with orchestrated grace.”
He was talking about racing, but I couldn’t describe flying any better than that. It’s what I believed when I flew and what I hoped to show those who came after me.
Hemingway called it “grace under pressure.”
And when done right, it’s a thing of beauty.
The “grace under pressure” he articulates confers great credit to Aviation. It’s what allowed a 737 crew to save 155 lives when faced with a crisis, landing in the Hudson. -or the fighter pilot who puts bombs precisely on target to save his brothers in arms. It’s a pursuit of excellence that urges the pilot to become better than he was yesterday. It’s a continuous improvement that gives General Aviation and its pilots a good name.
Ted got it right.