Those who know me, are well aware of the fact that I have a thing for all things aeronautical.
In times past and in another era when I was flush with testosterone, and with little guidance as to what to do with such a virulent chemical coursing through my veins, I somehow convinced the Government of Canada to legally certify me to slip the surly bonds of earth and dance the skies on laughter-silvered wings. The fact that I was legally sanctioned to strap on thousands of pounds of metal, rubber and aviation gasoline at will and then bodaciously launch said contraption skyward in defiance of gravity, still amazes me today.
It all started at conception. Mine that is. Well, that is how I have come to romanticize it. Apparently I entered life’s centre stage during a time when my mother worked in the Air Traffic Control system in Jamaica. That in itself I find more than interesting, as I too ended up working in the Canadian Air Traffic Control system in my later years. I have no idea if it had anything to do with latent avgas fumes, or if the principles of jet propulsion, suck – squeeze – bang – blow (intake – compression – ignition – exhaust) had anything to do with it.
I have had some interesting adventures during my initial flight training days; some thrilling and some scary. My training took place on the west coast of Canada all throughout the mountains of British Columbia. There is nothing like waking up to a bright sunlit morning, heading down to the local airport to preflight your aircraft for a jaunt up the coast, or a hop over the channel to land on the beach in Tofino on Vancouver Island’s Pacific-facing coast…something that will probably get me arrested should I attempt that now. I have adjusted somewhat, my adventurous spirit to now accommodate motorcycles. While I may not find myself airborne as much as I once did, (an admittedly life-limiting move if hanging on to a motorcycle), I nonetheless still relish the opportunity of being out in nature’s element.
Some of my riding compatriots favour headgear that allows for the steady pitter-patter of insects against their grinning facade. Me? I am allergic to all forms of pain-inducing stimuli and therefore facetiously hide behind a full-face helmet. Riding a motorcycle for me is akin to controlling an aircraft in many ways. One aspect of these two modes of transportation that always registers with me is the freedom I experience. On the one hand, one provides the opportunity to actually take a machine and manipulate all associated parts working in concert to enable it to leave terra firma and then facilitate its return to earth. Hopefully with the ability to walk away with a smile. Or in the colloquial vernacular of anyone living west of Manitoba, a sh*t eatin’grin!
On a motorcycle, the same hormonal responses are initialized. To a non-rider, anyone who voluntarily straddles a piece of equipment with sufficient power to weight ratio to threaten dislocation of arms from shoulders, needs to have their cerebrum analyzed. But there is an element that is too often missed with that sort of thinking. The assumption is made that those who ride are reckless thrill seekers without a modicum of sense about what they are doing. There is another name for that. Profiling.
A motorcyclist needs to be acutely aware of his or her surroundings, at all times, given that we are more exposed than those sheltered in 4-wheeled vehicles. The freedom of being able to control this type of vehicle while absorbing the enjoyable sensory perceptions of the environment at any given moment, requires our level of responsibility to be directly proportional to the power band at our disposal. It is not something to be trifled with. So, whether I am intercepting high altitude jet airways over Wyoming’s distinctive Crazy Woman navigational beacon, or navigating twisty mountain roads at ground level through Spuzzum British Columbia, the focus is always freedom and fun tempered (nay, mandated) by safety.