Flyboys & Farmhands

No one needs to bring an airsick bag with them if they’re going for a ride on a tractor. It’s not one of those things you’d find on a “be prepared” list if you were fixing for an afternoon stroll in the grassy fields on a warm spring day.

On the other hand, tucking a barf bag into the pocket of your delicate calico dress—the one meant to impress the third date fellah you’re seeing—should be somewhat of a warning. Especially if the suggestion came from him.

Back up a few years to the day I first took a ride with my pilot boyfriend, back to when he was fresh off the boat from his homeland where lands are granted, titles bestowed and heads beheaded. And still far from any recent ideas about reclaiming rightful colonies.

“A flight with you? In a tiny aircraft? Okay, sure!” (Giggle giggle.)

“Bring a plastic bag? You bet!” (Apparently, there’d be leftovers from a picnic.)

“Aerobatic maneuvers? Nope, never heard of them.” (Batting of eyelashes.)

“Yes, an aileron roll would be great!” (Must be some kind of sandwich.)

plane's manuva:Aileron Roll

plane’s manuva:Aileron Roll (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Holy Mother of Pearl! The ocean is above us!” (Frantic pawing at flimsy, flirty dress in search of pocket and bag.)

“Breakfast does not taste half as good the second time around … Sorry about your ceiling … and the cockpit … here, just scrape that off and you can see outside … ugh.”

Fast forward two years. No pretty dress. No plastic puke bag. “No way, José. Move over. I’m left seat. You can read the charts and do radio.”

Fast forward further. “Hey, honey, building a house on a mountain would mean we’d be closer to the sky, wouldn’t it? And lookie there, it’s right on the flight path to the sweet little airport that’s your home away from home, isn’t it? I could follow you on Flight Aware and jump out of the kitchen with a sign telling you what to pick up at the market just as you zoom past  on your way home. Cool, huh?”

A 1948 Gambles Farmcrest by the Cockshutt & CO...

A 1948 Gambles Farmcrest by the Cockshutt & CO-OP tractor company. On display in Harvard, Illinois during Milk Days 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fast forward more. “I’m tired of looking up at the sky. Look down at the dirt. Hey, let’s dig in it.”

F.F. one more time. “We need a tractor.”

Yesterday. “Farmer tans are sexy, sweetheart.”

Present day discourse. “There’s a pile of sheep poo out there that ain’t gonna move itself!”

It’s true I became a pilot like my husband, but it was a long time ago and largely because one of us lacked a fundamental sense of direction. The thing most challenging for me is that radio talk is short. Purposefully short. Compulsorily short. I love words. I’m a writer. And even though I work very hard, attempting to find the best words to quickly convey my meaning to a reader, I’m super slow at it. Lots of extra words get thrown into my scripts before they’re weeded out. Flowery adjectives. Prosaic adverbs. Purple prose is in ample abundance. The words are sublime to my ears, but like fingernails on a chalkboard to Air Traffic Control.

ATC wants quick and informative. I like descriptive.

ATC wants: Montgomery tower Bonanza 422MA 5000 inbound runway 23.

What I’ve been known to do: Good morning Montgomery tower! This is the super sleek Bonanza November four two two Mike Alpha with you at five thousand glorious feet in truly blue skies requesting the newly paved and hopefully extra long runway two three in just a couple of quick minutes, okey dokey?

When I first learned how to fly, people were always asking me to state my position. Sitting down and facing forward was not the expected reply. I long ago learned a sense of humor is not appreciated up there—and that access to the airwaves did not grant me time to practice a hopeful stand up routine.

I am not allowed to do radios unless it’s an emergency now.

I’m not that fussed. Especially since I don’t work well under pressure. I was always asking ATC to hold on a sec so I could piece together the right code-like answer. It sucks to get shouted at while you’re desperately trying to remember what all the lighted buttons in front of you are for and why some of them are flashing and others are making siren-like sounds.

Which is why riding a tractor is so much easier and a whole lot less stressful.

And more forgiving.

If I forget to put the bucket down before making a pass at a pile of pine shavings, I back up.

If I forget to put the wheels down before making a swoop at the runway, no do-overs allowed.

If I forget to put enough gas into the tractor and get caught short way the heck down by the sheep barn, I trudge back up the hill and haul down the gas cans.

If I forget to put enough gas into the plane, there’s no trudging, just plunging. Big difference.

I suppose I’m grateful to have gone through the experience of learning how to fly if for no other reason than simply because it impressed my high school science teacher who thought I’d probably go no further than learning how to master a weed whacker.

It really goes to show you just how far a plastic puke pouch and picnic can take you.

Roger and out.

Ten-four, good buddy.

Wilco.

~Shelley

Don’t forget to check out what’s cookin’ in the Scullery this week (here) and what we’re all talkin’ about down in the pub (here).

5 thoughts on “Flyboys & Farmhands

  1. The visual imagery from the cockpit that this essay brought forth not only made me laugh … but reminded me of a time long ago that a yellow paintball was discharged inside a black leather clad BMW interior (long story) … but I digress. You do storytelling great justice. As for the tractor … absolutely! You must have a tractor with a front end loader. Best wheelbarrow ever made! Thanks for the smiles.

    • Thanks, Melissa. And I’m right there with you on the cookie bit, but skydiving? Really? That takes some serious spunk. I keep that old adage to heart when thinking about skydiving – the one that asks why would anyone jump out of a perfectly good airplane?
      Thrill seeker, indeed. My hat’s off to you. 😛

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