Negative Copy, on the Whining

We call it flying, which sounds pretty tricky, unless you're a bird. But mostly it’s sitting. Hours and hours of sitting. Strapped into my little chair in this steel tube cage. Gossamer skin of painted fabric and thin panels of aluminum. Sitting and watching: gauges, sky, earth. And again please. Steering a little, with one hand and both feet. 14,000 hours. That's a chunk of a lifetime. Do the math.

Some days I think they could teach the average chimp to do this gig.

About forty inches ahead of me prop blades do the heavy work, at forty revolutions per second.

Read that again.

Between that cyclone and my chair, lots of other high-speed magic. Magnetos spin, sparkplugs fire, pistons hammer. Gasoline and oxygen

Combine,

Compress,

Explode.

  

Don't ask me hard questions. I just "fly" the thing.

  

Into the dusk of this gray December afternoon I'm headed home. A thousand feet above the lake's new ice. Hugging the coastline, ticking off landmarks: Barnston River, Bigstone Island, Bedford Creek. My little chair, steel cage, fabric wings, whirling blades and synchronized explosions. An airborne bundle of fire, spin, lift,

And, uh, sit,

All chugging east at ninety-five knots.

  

There must be a swallow of morning coffee left in my mug.

  

The air outside is thirty-three below zero. But in here, a breath of heat fetched from the exhaust gases, leftover warmth from all the pyrotechnics up front, comes to me through a few feet of flexible hose. So while I sit, I blow hot air onto my cheek.

  

Ahh. Nice. Fat, dumb, and happy, as the old saying goes.

  

Meanwhile, Earth rounds the bend of another Winter Solstice, hurtling through space (must we always be "hurtling?") at 67,000 miles an hour. And not just hurtling. Spinning too, like a wicked curveball, or a bullet.

  

Read that part again too. Yikes.

  

Nearly home now, I reach down for the dregs of coffee from the screw-top mug on the cockpit floor by my mukluks. I bank and descend into thick cold air down low, and the cup jostles. A little coffee spills onto my lap. Damn, I mutter, suddenly quite offended, then catch myself.

Give your head a shake, pal. 
I mean, considering what's goin' on here, 
A splash of coffee on your coverall and
Now you're gonna start whining? 

Really?

                           -- 2150Z, 22 December 2021

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