Sunday, September 2, 2012

Soaring above the earth

As a child, one of my recurrent dreams was that I could fly. If I was in any danger (I don’t really remember what I perceived danger to be at seven years of age), I could lift myself off the ground and soar a bit above the people whose hands reached out to grab at my feet, which were always dangling just a few inches above their outstretched hands. I remember how wonderful it felt to fly with so little effort on my part. There was no fear there. I like to think that this dream is a metaphor for my life, or at least for the way I wanted to live it growing up, and have lived it to some extent thus far. I don’t want to be pulled back down to earth, not when I want to soar into the clouds and fly free. Indeed, my dream symbolism book tells me that flying may mean several things: ‘wishful thinking; astral projection; suggestion to rise above a problem’. I often think that is why I have such an affinity for birds; there are people I know who can just summarily ignore them or not even see them. They are not conscious of these wonderful creatures flying about and above us. How can you ignore them, I wonder? I cannot. I watch how they behave, I watch how they land and take off. I watch how they watch what is going on around them as they are going about their business, and I listen to them ‘talk’ to each other. It is no surprise to me, after watching birds soar majestically toward a shining sun, that man wanted to fly, and set about learning how. When you look at how far man has come in that endeavor, I can only say--hats off to scientists, engineers, architects, and dreamers everywhere who helped make that dream come true. I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again here—those who dreamed big and made plane flight a reality for the common man—they are the ones who deserve the Nobel prizes for science and engineering. I watched a documentary program about the Concorde supersonic planes recently, and despite the tragic end to the Concorde airline, they were beautiful planes—far ahead of their time. It was moving to see how the Concorde pilots became emotional when talking about their planes. I could almost understand how they felt, even though I have never piloted a plane. But after listening to them, and after watching the incredible air show here in Oslo yesterday (to commemorate 100 years of military flight in Norway), I could almost say that I wished I had learned to pilot a plane. Even though I know that I would probably be satisfied if I could sit in the cockpit of a large plane one day and watch pilots at work. I would love to see what they see and to really understand how planes take off and land.

I’ve never seen an air show before in my life; after yesterday’s spectacular exhibition over the Oslo harbor area, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them. Watching F16s and Alpha-jets roar through the sky, diving, turning, flying upside down, accelerating, dropping, flying completely perpendicular to the earth, flying in synchrony—it’s an incredible feeling to observe them, like watching birds flying in formation. The Patrouille de France aerobatics demonstration team performed at yesterday's airshow, and here is a link to a video (not mine) on YouTube that will give you an idea of how beautifully they flew. 

The air show also featured demonstrations of two Norwegian helicopters--the Sea King that is used in search and rescue operations, and the Bell helicopter, both impressive to watch. The amusing thing was that the seagulls, geese and ducks were flying very low to the water yesterday, probably because they were wondering what sort of huge birds had taken over the skies above them where they normally like to be. I like to think too that maybe they were trying to impress us with their grace and flying abilities, since they had such big metal birds to compete with. I noticed them. And nothing will ever beat a bird for grace and beauty in flying. But the air show planes come close.

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