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From: Austin Tinckler (
Date: 04/15/01-09:36:17 AM Z

I began to fly because I was afraid. Nobody else I knew of was doing
it. It was costly, risky, adventurous, and not approved of by my folks.
 Something though, was pushing me onward. I learned to love it and it
gave me something back. Pride, appreciation, and self-esteem to face
down trepidation.

A while ago, I pushed the RV out to the grass and a fellow came by, full
of questions, and declared proudly that he had once flown an Ercoupe,
coast to coast and back. Awesome, for I too, had flown an Ercoupe to
Mexico and back when I was a kid. I had to wonder what fires kids
today? Where is the courage and adventure? I thought of a time when a
row of 20 Mustangs were retired and parked on the grass, I got into one
and sat with canopy closed and hands on stick and throttle, visualized
the boys who sat here before and what they may have experienced, and
wondered if I would have the kind of courage that they had. The guns
were now cold and the contrails were long gone, and I sat in that row of
20 Mustangs and thought back.

I read once where, in the Great War, most of the aces with big scores
were teenagers, frequently dead before their 20th birthday. Now,
decades later, I was to summon up courage once more to try to be at one
with an airplane that was more than anything I had experienced before.
With each flight, we got to know each other better and time and thoughts
were allowed to enjoy more of what was outside the cockpit.

Time to look at the wings, and the colour of them, the fields below, and
the shading of clouds along the way. I climbed to 9,000, throttled back
to turn and come back home, and glided quietly and thought how beautiful
it all looked and how we too, must look beautiful: ruby, burgundy, and
white, up against the blue. I thought of the serenity of flight by the
wonderful flying scenes in “Out of Africa” and “The English Patient” and
the inspiring music of the background. This would make anyone with a
soul stir his passion for pure flight. This craft slipping along the
halls of air, this cathedral of the skies. It is to weep.

I read, too, of a man who, this month, is about to fly a 70-year-old
biplane from London back to Australia. An Avro Avian, retracing the
steps of those like Antoine de St. Exupery who wrote, in “Wind, Sand
and Stars,” of crossing the cold desert at night and the furnace of the
timeless plains by day, all on a compass and map (if any). The drive
and the courage is still out there in some. It is a reckoning with
one's self.

I am a teen no more and I still need to summon up nerve sometimes, but
the winning of it still thrills me and the purity of flying is ever
fresh to me. The RV lets me extend myself and brings me up to where the
world is broad and grand and riotous with colour and sensual delights.
Landing once again is a handshake of two companions who have enjoyed
each other's company until the next time.

Thank you Van, thank you RV, and thank you all out there.

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