11 February 2015


When I heard he died last week I was transported back to Summer, 1968.
I was learning to fly, getting ready to deploy to an area where I knew there were angry people who would like nothing more than to make small (or maybe NOT so small !) holes in my slow-moving helicopter.

I knew they'd also be ecstatic if one of those hole-makers happened to encounter flesh or bone along the way on its journey.
Knowing you'll be facing that environment in a few months will focus your attention; make you try to squeeze every wonderful drop of life out of every moment.

I have no idea where or how I first heard this tune. I was probably in exactly the right melancholy mood for it to have maximum impact... maybe I'd had an adult beverage or two.
All I know is that I went almost immediately and bought the record, and have it still.

When you listen, you'll need to be in the proper state of mind to fully enjoy it. Maybe you'll want to hold off until later?

You made my life better during a difficult time, Mr. McKuen.
I hope you know that.


Ed Bonderenka said...

A friend of mine named Dave Wolf was a helicopter pilot in Nam.
He told me that a large percentage of students died trying to learn to fly those.
Your experience?

Greybeard said...

First, this is MY opinion. Put a buck with that and you can buy a cup of coffee in LOTS of places.

Flying helicopters is more dangerous than watching "As The World Turns" from your sofa.
My knees knock when I get above the third rung on a ladder. If you think about it, climbing above 20' and accelerating to speed is dangerous, no matter what your conveyance. A sudden stop will kill you.
But we ALL aviate, (Southwest Airlines?) and are willing to take that risk.

So now imagine setting out to LEARN how to do a dangerous thing.
You're not really competent because you need the experience to be skilled at the task.
Did folks die while learning? Sure.
Would I refer to it as a "large percentage"? No.
We drank and drove. I'd wager more of our "Rotary Wing Flight School" students died in auto accidents during their training.

Anyone else have an opinion to share?