Friday, October 28, 2011

Leveling Off

[Another few words from my work on using essence and finesse to think about flying]

Levelland, Texas. The Llano Estacado. Cattle, oil, essence for pilot and craft. Cruising above the Caprock. Easy.

Start on the ground. Fuel, noise, sublimation.

Climb. Speed, check. Vertical speed, check. Chemical essence turns to height. The textbooks say nothing is changing, but the ground falls away, the air thins. The needles slip from truth
to lies.

Now make it all stop. But how? Push the nose down, lose finesse? Pull the throttle back, save essence? Both must change.

As height increase, speed is low. As speed is low, height increases.

But height stops growing. So speed must grow. Change of finesse. Gently push the nose to level.

Now speed is growing. Drag grows, not lift. Continue and finesse will vanish.

Level, using more essence robs the craft of finesse. A double dilemma. Everything we have worked for, scrimped for, sacrificed for, thrown away.

My candle burns at both ends.
It will not last the night.

It will not last to shed a lovely light.

Pull the throttle back.

[poem from Edna St.-Vincent Millay]

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