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required memorization

Back when I was in AFROTC, hoping to fly for the Air Force, I was required to memorize a poem:

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

The Air Force, of course, flys high-powered fixed-wing aircraft with more thrust than they know what to do with. Here’s the Army’s take on the matter:

The thing is, helicopters are different from planes. An airplane by its nature wants to fly, and if not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or by a deliberately incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other, and if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance the helicopter stops flying immediately and disastrously.

There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter.

This is why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot and why, in general, airplane pilots are open, clear eyed, buoyant extroverts, and helicopter pilots are brooders, introspective anticipators of trouble. They know that if something bad has not happened, it is about to.

I cannot help but find the contrast delicious.

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2 Comments

Comment by kadath
2008-02-17 13:30:44

“Rotorcraft do not fly. They are so ugly the Earth itself repels them.”

 
Comment by para_cynic
2008-02-18 09:57:52

The great thing about helicopter insertion is how relieved you are to get off the thing and now only have to worry about the enemy trying to shoot you.

I often found that closing my eyes and deep breathing while gripping fingerprint patters into the stock of my M16 helped me retain my calm exterior.

 

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