So there I was, alone in the hangar, after a hard earned show, putting sweet Rhapsody to bed for the night. As per my usual custom, I picked up a rag and started wiping down my noble mount, cleansing her of accumulated smoke oil, bugs and everyday, garden variety dirt. The cleaning of one’s aircraft is essential. It allows for detailed inspection as well as preventative maintenance. It has also become somewhat of a ritual for me as it allows me to clear my mind, refocus and enables me to reconnect with my craft which in essence is my working platform. This particular evening, affairs had run a little late so I was alone with Rhapsody as all save the foolhardy had long deserted the humid and wretchedly hot airfield. I was thankful beyond description for the quiet solitude after such a demanding day and had every intention of getting that airplane clean and then getting into a cold shower for relief. As my hands started to move across the aircraft I was swept away by her lines, amazed by her soft contours and I was once again wholly entranced by her simplistic beauty. Before long, I was whispering sweet nothings to her as only the truly deranged could understand. I was caught in her magical spell, caressing her smooth skin, telling her how beautiful she was and giving her cowl a little peck of a kiss when the corner of my eye caught a furtive movement in the shadows forming on the back wall.
“So how long have you been there?” I asked. The response came echoing back “Oh, just a while…I forgot something.” A tall, rugged man, in his mid fifties, detached himself from the shadows. He was obviously attached to the air show as he was wearing the trademark coating of dust and sweat which was indicative of a day spent on the field. “And how much of this did you hear?” “Well, all of it, I guess.” Needless to say, I had been caught in a most embarrassing situation. I could already imagine the gossip about my mental stability, running rampant across the airfield the following day. Not sure how to extricate myself from this humiliating position and trying to stammer out a semi reasonable explanation for my behavior saw my shadowed voyeur break out in a hearty laugh. He bid me not to worry about it as it was common behavior where he came from. Feeling very relieved by his acceptance of my freakishly bizarre behavior, I asked him how long he had intended to let me go on romancing my aircraft before making his presence known. “Well, truth be told, you don’t happen across girl on girl action like that too often. I though if I waited it out, I might get lucky.” He did get lucky. I handed him a rag and put him to work on the belly! Probably not what he had in mind but he was a good sport about it regardless. I now freely kiss on my airplane whenever the mood strikes me with little regard for how it might be perceived by others. I’m just a gal in love with her plane…no excuses and no apologies!
Logically, I do realize that the aircraft is a simple construct of spruce and fabric with an over priced power plant sitting at its front. I understand that it can be replaced, repaired and that it can even be considered an expendable loss should the worst take place. I know these things to be the hard economic truths of my environment. How I would feel about her loss is another matter entirely.
My aircraft allows me the ability to be that which I am. She is my working platform. She is the end accomplishment of my goals. She is the means to accomplish more. She is the link between me and my pilots. She is the medium of my art form. Without her, I would still be me but a wingwalker without a mount is a very sorry sight indeed. I have invested her with a personality and attributed her human qualities more in jest than anything else. The true worth of my aircraft can be found in the wealth of memories that she has supplied. I look at her cockpit and easily see all the pilots that I’ve learned to trust. I remember that blast of air that caught me unaware during my very first wingwalk. I see my mechanics, huddled around her engine, holding conference about performance levels. I see air show patrons looking upon her with awe and reverence, seeing the same beauty as I even though she’s worn and dirty. I see the hands and faces of those who have helped me be a wingwalker. I see my father being proud of me. I see children smiling with glee at her shinny red coat. I see my peers looking out for me and mentoring me. I see the teachers I have courted and the students who courted me. I see the successes she has helped me achieve. I see the smiles that her antics have created. I see glimpses of my former husband and wonder if he would find her as lovely as I do. I see all that has passed before me and all that is to come. Yes. It is just an airplane but she’s my airplane and I’ll be damned if there’s another like her anywhere!