RECREATION, OR JUST CREATION?

It’s hardly a stretch to suppose folks have fantasized about flying since the earliest generations. Winged dragons aren’t exactly a modern concept; same for the thunderbird, Peter Pan, and your basic sylph. And best not forget those pesky angels! Imagine living a hundred years before Lilienthal (or ten thousand), and watching gulls hover over a dune. Would you go nuts with overwhelming envy and die in some wacky experiment? Nah, you’d probably stash it in your head and get on with a lifetime of groundlubbing like everybody else — then go to bed and dream you’re hovering over that dune.

If you have flying dreams consider yourself blessed, ‘cause not everyone does. As a kid, the highest I usually got were occasional nightmares of not falling from a bendy treetop or a cliff with no footholds. Those dreams had a way of never quite ending; whenever they got too scary to bear I’d always wake right up. Anticipating that timely reprieve during dreams neutralized childhood nightmares for good, glad to say.

When I took up flying as a way of life I worried there might be crashing dreams, but they never ‘materialized’ either. All through middle age and most of my soaring career, I might dream about incidentals of operation and crew, or vague, sometimes imaginary details of the aircraft themselves, but only during extended spells of inactivity. And nary any dreams of actually flying!

Dreams nowadays tend toward nonsense or gibberish (like the world at large only tasteful), often laughable though rarely ominous. And even now, the only dream I remember that got my feet off the ground was a flash vignette, driving an open top convertible of all things, in Chicago. At some freeway interchange, I lost patience with a cloverleaf and casually banked off an overpass, swooping down on the road below to save time. Airborne for all of a couple seconds, enough to realize that having no wings or elevator was gonna make for a rough touchdown. And that’s when I woke up, just like the old days. Still never been to Chicago in ‘real’ life, but if I ever go there I’ll know to stick with that one offramp no matter how slow the traffic!

So yes, I’m flying-dream-challenged for some unpoetic reason, but like Da Vinci, the Wright Bros, and maybe you too, I’ve consumed gobs of earth hours daydreaming about all aspects of flight, the sky, and the fruit of their marriage: soaring. It’s my default pastime, as if there were a choice.

You could say it’s like the biblical ‘knowledge of good and evil’:  the way to preclude longing for flight is to never fly at all. My heart used to break any soarable day that passed without some opportunity to dine again at the aerial feast. But as years pile up, here where perfect weather’s nearly all we get, so many delights are stockpiled in memory I’ve learned to admire the next one flowing overhead, truly content in knowing what it could offer anyone charmed enough to be there. If it goes unflown, nothing lost. There’ll always be another.

Yet, ah the rubber nickels I wouldn’t give for just one delicious soaring dream to remember forever! Must be nice. Maybe if I try sleeping more…

As for you and your own dreamscapes, fly ‘em if you got ‘em, and here’s to happy night landings!