Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Pilot

I'm sweltering in a cigar tube parked on a remote runway in a tropical country. Machete props like two smashed starlings are inches away from the window, threatening to cut us in half. The only safety briefing I've ever wanted to listen to is in a language I don't understand. We're a tense but obedient lot, deserving of life and landing based on the exorbitant fee to be sitting here in the first place.
A lurch to the left and a shadow grows as our pilot pulls himself up the creaking stairs to the door. It becomes obvious that the reason we're all halfway back is to compensate for his impressive bulk. A hulking fist of a man, with a coked up swagger, he faces us through bling Aviators without acknowledgement. The look of a man happier to be on a bombing mission than a flying creche. A man who likes his patties fatty and his hostesses lean. The cabin door ricochets off his shoulder, smashing into something important. People his size should be butchering buffalo, not tweaking sensitive equipment. But, like buffalo, nothing holds fear for our pilot. No sky, no ground, nor the transition between the two. Within seconds he's beaten the props to life, sucked bucket loads of jet fuel down the pipes and faced us into the hot breeze. Our brutal, fearless, flying man thrusts us over the goats at the end of the runway and punctures the sky with force. He takes us up, he counter punches storm clouds and he smacks us down an hour later. No calming music, no piped niceties, just a guy who grabs a plane by the balls and shows it who's boss.

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