being a co-pilot

January 13, 2011

The other day, I was a copilot for the first time. In a plane at least.

This story started when all airports in the continental US seemed to be shutting down just as I was trying to return from a short trip to places much warmer than Kansas City. After some quick rescheduling, I wound up on a very small plane – a plane small enough that even your eight pound carry-on gets placed on a scale and they ask you for your weight when you’re getting your ticket. I truly never thought that would happen.

They brought us out on the tarmac – all nine of us – and proceeded to stow all our bags in the plane. No space was wasted, even the inside of the wings. I was picked as the copilot, presumably because my legs would safely end up below the steering controls, and everyone else was arranged by weight.

It was quite an adventure, and I couldn’t help but get philosophical on that 30 minute flight over islands. Looking out that front window, it almost felt like I had some control over where I was going. The controls were moving left and right in front of me, and I could look at all the antiquated gauges and hear the air traffic controllers over the radio. It was oddly exhilarating, and absolutely beautiful.

Of course, I didn’t actually have any control over where we were actually going, and the pilot wasn’t handing over the plane to me if something went wrong. It’s a bit like life. Cliche, I know, but as much as we attempt to convince ourselves we’re in a position of control, we’re not.

But we’re along for the ride, and we might as well enjoy the view.

By the way, it was the smoothest landing I’ve ever experienced.


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