Flying Journal - There is no joy in Mudville

"Mighty Casey has struck out." That's how I feel sometimes when I don't think I have a good idea to write about. One theory about helping people to write better holds that there are many different ways to go about writing. Unfortunately, many classes tend to emphasize only one approach and students with a natural bent towards other processes of thinking and working may suffer or be discouraged in their work.

When I was in high school, that one approach was often a linear model--pre-write, outline, write, then revise. In fact, many writers use an approach more like mine-- we muddle around for a while, get ideas as we write, maybe even outline and organize some more AFTER we have written the whole thing. The theory continues that sometimes when we have trouble writing, we may be trying to do it with a method not natural to ourselves.

While I've been writing with sporadic attempts at publication for nearly 35 years, maybe 90 per cent of the effort in that time went into trying to get started, or once started, trying to get finished. Therefore I have a great interest in the subject of Writer's Block. I am not yet an expert on Writer's Block, but that might be a good specialty for a teacher of writing (hmmm . . .? I don't think this teacher of flying has ever encountered "flying block"--although I certainly do encounter "checkride block").

Sometimes when I don't know what to write, I remember a quote from the English Romantic artist and poet, William Blake--"When the thinking is clear, the writing is easy." And then I knew why I didn't want to write this month. At first I was not willing to be honest. Somehow I have started a theme in my writing about the "Joy of Flying." This month I failed to meet some of my flying goals and that coupled with some of the aviation events in the news have caused me to not feel very joyful about aviation in general or my own in particular. Then I realized I should be honest and write about even those "unjoyful" aviation thoughts!

So: I flew three hours in December, then thirty in January. A roller coaster. And thirty, at least fighting winter weather, seemed to be too much, threatening to take the fun out of it for this spoiled little boy. But that was my own fault, pushing my students hard, not just for their own benefit, but to meet an artificial goal I had set for myself. But that alone could have been adjusted in the scheduling.

But more than just a little winter depression, the aviation situation seems truly depressing at times. The ultralight accident at Camdenton, the Marine Ospreys, other accidents, $3.00 fuel, turmoil in the business and political situations around GA in the area, continuing relentless pressure from telecom interests and developers, legislative and executive misunderstanding of aviation issues, airline delays, airspace saturation, antiquated ATC systems, user fees, ad nauseam. In a recent issue of the e-mail newsletter, "AvWeb," (Subscribe free at I read two opposing views on an FAA enforcement action and the commercial pilot's subsequent appeals. It got me thinking about the hassles of aviation. To be honest, sometimes flying is NOT so joyful.

I have heard the theory that depression is sometimes caused by unexpressed anger, the energy of that anger turned back on ourselves, or perhaps the depression slowing us down so we don't do something rash with our anger. When I think about it (I guess this DOES relate to last month when I mused about my fantasy images of aviation . . .) there are many issues which can anger me about aviation. We talk about some of them at MPA chapter and board meetings (and certainly those are a good place to begin productive use of our anger!)

Now this has become a pep-talk for myself. Earl--and anyone else who needs a pep talk--don't give up the hope, and the joy. That's at the core for me. It might very well be just time and money to a business person (and it certainly is to airlines and their investors) but to me, what's the point if I lose that spiritual connection to that privileged position of flying above the Earth seeing the patterns of its roundness webbing across the landscape below?

Support efforts of MPA, USPA, EAA, AOPA (and other "alphabets") to PRESERVE and enhance general aviation and SHARE THE JOY! Spring is just around the corner. FLY SAFELY!


If you recall last month, your "Editor" wrote that he had never logged a flight on the day the newsletter was finalized. Today, February 11, 2001 is a different story. I show flights on this date on three occasions; 2/11/44 in a PBY-5 at Pensacola, 2/11/47 in a BT-13 at Pella, IA and on 2/11/68 in my very own C-140 (N4020N) from Eau Claire, WI to Cedar Rapids, IA. [Editor]

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