Sunday, March 6, 2011
To Taste the Clouds - Nonfiction
They taste like rain smells. They feel like the mist of a dream, there and yet insubstantial, here and then gone, leaving the faintest of impressions. I close my eyes and I can still feel them on my skin.
The power of the engine travels through the plane's skin and into my own. The throaty roar of 600 hp and the wind flying by is reduced to a throbbing hum by my headset. I shift my weight, the seatpack parachute feeling like a slab of concrete under me. An odd feeling, to be suspended in the sky, trusting in tons of metal and a large bundle of fabric and silk should that metal fail.
We are out of the clouds now, and the patchwork of earth is visible below. The radio is quiet and I am content to look from side to side, keeping an eye on the controls and gauges.
The throttle inches forward and then we are diving, hurtling toward the ground, and it is all I can do to not whoop for the sheer joy of it. Then it's up, up, smoothly and effortlessly; the sky is a shocking blue and I am pressed into my seat.
It is only during the split second that we are upside down and I feel a little "light in the seat" that I realize my canopy should not be open. I wait until we are right side up and back to straight and level flight before inching the greenhouse glass along its track.
The pilot radios back, with a smile in his voice, "Well, how'd I do?"
I reply with perfect aplomb "Pretty good. Luckily I had my harness done up, else I might be dropping in on some very surprised spectators right about now."
Dead silence. "Bloody hell, you mean you had the canopy open the whole time?"
"Well, yeah. I didn't know we'd be doing loops, I thought it was just demonstration flybys this morning; you should have warned me first. Anyway, I wanted to see what clouds felt like."
"You wanted..." Apparently, words failed him at that point. We finished the flight in silence except for the radio transmissions to the tower. I knew I was going to catch all kinds of hell when we got down, but it didn't matter. Some things in life are just worth it.
The answer, of course, to the Memetastic Award post Liar Liar is #1. I never pretended to be an author, never worked in a funeral parlor, thought about sitting at the vacant author's table but had enough sense not to, and wasn't actually run into by Dick Cheney and his shopping cart, although he was behind me in the checkout line one evening. And, by the way, the pilot and I both caught hell from the Air Boss at the show that day because, according to regulations, he wasn't even supposed to have a "non-essential" passenger along.