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Brodhead Pietenpol Association

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BPA Editorial

Ol' Tattered Wingtips.... by Doc Mosher


I’ve always been bewildered by the need of people to assert themselves by wearing “GAP” or “OLD NAVY” shirts or jeans. Is it purchased status or herd instinct? “Boy, we really clobbered those Bears!” (In Wisconsin of course it’s “Dem Bears”)  As if we really had anything to do with the outcome of a professionally staged entertainment event.  Is it different when aviation enthusiasts get together?  In some ways no – in some ways yes.


For all the millions of people all over the world who have “flown” (as passengers on a huge cattle car called an airline jet), there are relatively few who have actually flown. As pilots, we are so fortunate to have discovered something in our lives that demands so much of us and also brings so much fulfillment and pleasure. Flying (and here I mean flying) is not for everyone, but for those relative few of us who get to do it, it gives us a special personal window through which we pass to exercise our human capabilities to our fullest.  Only a hundred years ago, we could not have gone flying! In just this short a time, after a million years of dreaming and mythology, mankind has gained enough scientific knowledge to take some sticks and cloth and add a little engine to build a flying machine that would have been an international sensation only a single lifetime ago.


From early pioneers, we have the capability (scientific knowledge) that allows us to fly. Collectively, we have the know-how to transport whole hospitals to ravaged parts of the world – and to build bombers and missiles to cause indescribable devastation. 


But when we roll our little homebuilt Pietenpol out of the hanger in the late afternoon, crank it up and take off before dusk to fly over a rolling landscape, we are using more than scientific knowledge. Supposedly, our left brain is the primary processor of scientific knowledge, the things that allow our survival, like tying our shoestrings or walking up stairs. Our right brain is supposed to be the controller of the more ethereal part of us; things like poetry, music, theology. Flying brings the two parts together, at least for a short time.


Yes, pilots are very fortunate to have been to a place that produces such a unique perspective of the world around us - different from what most other people experience.  Perhaps pilots seem to gather so quickly and effortlessly because we have had the same wonderful and daring experiences that can only come from flying. Some of the people around us have been touched by this wonder of flight too; but pilots - we are birds of a feather.


Beats the hell out of a GAP shirt any day.