I like riding motorcycles, always have, ever since I can remember. Why? Dunno. Maybe it’s that “one with the machine” thing. Driving a car can be fairly automatic, but riding a motorcycle is totally absorbing. All the extremities are occupied, some with more than one device. For instance, on the motorcycle your right hand not only controls the throttle, but also activates the front brake. You become part of the machine and the machine becomes part of you in a very real way.
When I was first learning how to fly, my instructors put it in much the same context. “Let the wings become extensions of your arms,” they’d say, which I thought was terribly silly. Or, “I don’t get in the aircraft, I put it on…I wear it.” To which I would roll my eyes and think, “Yeah, yeah, suuuuure you do.”
My own approach to flying was more mechanical and methodical and scientific. You do this with the controls and you’ll get the desired result. It works – works every time. I did not put the helicopter on like a pair of gloves or something. Poppycock! There is a certain amount of artistry to flying, no doubt. But I did not understand that the artistry is not in the connection between the painter's hand and his brush and the canvas, but rather the artist's brain and the final image.
Somewhere along the way, something changed. And I’m not sure when it did. But it’s the strangest thing. Now, I no longer find myself sitting in an aircraft. When I climb aboard and strap in, I literally feel myself becoming a part of that machine. I do what I used to make fun of. Now, I don’t think about pushing the little sticks around. It just sort of happens. It's taken years and years, but flying finally feels very natural to me. I’m very happy about this.
My dad was like that- a natural pilot. I only flew with him on a couple of occasions, but each time he exuded this…this…confidence. You simply knew he was in charge and in control.
I do not claim to be the World’s Greatest Pilot or World’s Best Motorcyclist. But I feel lucky to have at least reached a level of oneness with these crazy machines. It was something my mentors tried to teach me, but it is also something that cannot be taught.