A quick word from Vill: Hey guys! Please welcome our newest contributor, NomNom De Plume, to the LDG screen. We loved her comments on Moxie Horror Picture Show so much that we asked her to join the team. Check out her bio, read her brilliant musings, and give her a loud derby welcome!
I’ve been feeling a lot of fear lately- but I think it’s a good fear. It’s the same kind that I would get while preparing for a flight lesson. Well, almost the same kind. Get this- if I didn’t listen to The The’s ‘This is the day’ in its entirety while on the way to my local airport; I would be convinced that unspeakable tragedy would befall me in the not-so-friendly skies. Generally, I would try to weasel myself out of flying a plane almost every time I was scheduled to do it, using every possible excuse: I was unprepared. Hungover. Sore. Coming down with something. You could say I was superstitious, but truthfully- I was self-doubting, hesitant, over-thinking at every turn and well, a little chicken to boot. All it would take was one skip in the CD, or one missed gear while shifting, and yeah- I would mentally psyche myself to fail, then plan my excuses to guarantee ground school for the day (translate: bookwork boredom).
My flight instructor Pete- a retired aircraft carrier fighter pilot- must have seen this little routine one too many times, for he would chuckle at my lameness before telling me to go pre-flight the Cessna 172 for our lesson. About halfway through my very intense, very scrutinous (is that a word?) pre-flight (Me: that bolt looks a little loose…maybe I should fill out a squawk sheet and have the mechanics take a look, could take awhile), Pete would saunter over to me, shake off my concerns after making quite the show of ‘scrutinously’ lending a second pair of eyes to my own, and inevitably state, “Ok- let’s go!”
And we would, and I would learn something new each and every time. Sometimes I would glean little known things about aviation (‘See that lake? You can tell which direction the wind is coming from by the ripples. That corn field? Bad place to land in an emergency- they just plowed it, see?”), but always, always- I would discover something pretty great about myself. But I was still afraid.
One rainy day, while participating in a heated session of ‘hangar talk’ (Hangar talk can pretty much be equated to pilots sharing tales of close calls, accomplishments, tall tales- any aviation speak to pass the time until it’s clear enough to fly again), I blurted out the unblurtable- “I’m so scared each and every time I walk up to a plane that I’m about to fly!”
It got really quiet, and I remember hearing very clean, uninterrupted, staccato punctuations of raindrops hitting the metal of the hangar we were all huddled in. It seemed to last an eternity. That is, until one of the pilots spoke up.
“If you walk up to a plane and DON’T feel scared shitless as pilot-in-command, then you need to walk away and never get in another cockpit again!”
I don’t know if you could call that advice, but the old man who said it to me was WWII Ace Jimmy Johnson’s wingman. I figured he knew what he was talking about, and his words stayed in my head enough to overcome all that superstition, self-doubt, hesitancy, etc., and I obtained my FAA-approved Single-engine land Airman’s certificate.
Jump to a decade later and well, here I am. The air-racing stunt pilot career never got off the ground. I’ve instead relegated myself into a corporate, hourly-waged routine. It has good health benefits, pays the bills, but most importantly- it’s providing me with the day to day stability I require in order to start something just as scary and rewarding as flying has been for me.
You guessed it- I’m Nomnom De Plume, the latest roller derby player in training.
I’ve been feeling a lot of fear lately, but I think it’s a good kind. I’ve felt this once before, but I have to tell you something- Being in absolute control of one’s own destiny (and life), while being 3,000 feet above the ground in a tin can that’s smaller than a Mazda Miata, and was built while Nixon was still in office? That’s much less intimidating than balancing on quads, executing plow stops and preparing for 25 in 5, amongst other things skate related.
Prequel finished, let’s get into the sexy side of scary- Roller Derby, you had me at ‘Talk Derby to me’.