Thursday, 29 January 2009

I know I've been around planes too long when..

There's a thread running on about how aviation creeps into the lives of us airplane fanatics..since i qualify for the title of aviation fanatic (in fact, if it were like real education, i'd probably be a triple phd or something on useless airplane facts), i read the thread with what you can imagine to be great glee. People were posting little things that they did in their day to day lives which were a direct effect of their love for aircraft. Like saying roger, when you want to indicate that you understood something. I have a list of my own when it comes to stuff like that, so i thought i might as well write them down.

My biggest offence is to pretend im flying a plane when i ride my bike. To most people, starting up a bike is a reasonably straightforward deal, especially if they have electric start as an option. But for me, it has to be an elaborate affair, as if i were spooling up a jet engine. i turn the key, pull back on the choke, press the starter button, listen to the engine cough to life, imagine its creating a smoke screen behind me like the rolls royce RB211s on a Tristar, wait for the straining sound that the choke makes, pull back on the choke lever pretending its a lever on my cockpit's throttle quadrant, pull the clutch and put it into gear, and then burn through the clutch in the name of feeling the rpms build up, just like it would when a jet spools up. and then im happy.

well not completely happy, cos then i start making estimations for times of arrival, time enroute, alternate routes (since alternate destination like in an airplane is not possible since im gonna be ending up in offce/home at the end of the ride anyway) etc..and when i have to make tight turns or turn around, i hit the throttle just before im aligned straight with the road, just the way i've seen some captains go full thrust a moment before the plane is aligned with the runway centreline. the thrust straightens out the plane as well as the bike, and i get this incredible rush each time it happens, be it on the bike or the plane. oh, and when a im approaching a traffic light that's turning yellow, i mentally call out V1 (the speed beyond which takeoff cannot be rejected) and gun the throttle and zoom through the light, calling 'rotate' once im through.. and when im caught at a red light and if i happen to be right at front, i perform what i call a carrier take off, building up rpms and then letting go, with the tyres skidding and straining to get me up to speed. Oh, and on the rare occasions that i do a wheelie, i call it a high alpha pass.. and then im happy.

of course, the list doesn't end there, far from it. setting right aviation related misconceptions and mistakes, even when my services were unwelcome, is another angle to it. this includes vigorously shaking my head and then making an explanation to my friends when i spot a mistake in a movie. that we are in a theatre does not matter in the least, nor does it matter that they couldn't care two hoots about what i consider to be a sacrilegious mistake. I mean, it may have been practical for the director to show a small regional jet from the outside yet use a twin aisle plane for the interior shot cos its roomier, but i will have none of that. nor will i stand for it when torpedoes are dropped on the ground or when other such stupid things are done.

aircraft recognition is another of these little habits. each time a plane flies above me, i have to crane up and recognize it. its a compulsion. seeing alone will not do. the very least requirement is a recognition of the operator, type and subtype. its not enough that i recognize its a 737, i keep straining my neck and increasing my chances of spondilitis till i figure whether its a 737-700 or 737-800. and if i catch the registration, especially on my visits to places close to the airport, then the day becomes significantly brighter. and if i spot a rare type, like for instance the day i spotted an Antonov 124 at IGI delhi, delirium ensues..sure, i do figure that it gets a bit annoying for those around, considering they dont share the interest, but this is something a lot of us plane nuts have in common.

what i have found most interesting about aicraft lovers is the passion that is shared. to me, it seems a lot more intense than most of the other hobbies and hobbyists i know. i have seen total strangers bond over their common love for aviation, in a way i havent seen much before. its not quite the same as a love for cars, bikes or comic books, but then that's just my opinion. all i know is that i spend two thirds of my waking hours doing thinking about planes, or doing something related to aviation. if i hear the drone of an engine, i look up. if i have to travel, i'll take the longest layovers to spend more time at the airport. i'd do the 50km ride to bangalore airport on the bike just to see off a friend, when im actually seeing the planes. its a passion, its one that keeps me going, and its one that i dont care if those around me don't share it with me.

it's my little world, one where im supersonic, flying on a flightplan that has no destination, only waypoints.

Addendum : I suppose its ironic that two days after i posted this, ive been moved into non aero work. damn you, recession.. :(

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