Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The right stuff

Runway. Empty landscape. Military jetnoise. A crashed jet with the pilot in it. Couple of pilots hanging at the bar. Pictures on the wall. A lot of pictures: pilots and their aircrafts. Two well dressed men entering the bar. Silence. We can hear the clock ticking. More jetnoise.
Two men: "We are looking for Chuck Yeager."
One of the pilots: "Who is asking?"
Two men: "We're from Washington and looking for pilots for the NASA space program."
Yeager: "Not interested. Don't want to get rocketed into space like a hooked monkey. That's not flying."

The scene above in 'The Right Stuff' (film 1983) is one my favorites. It tells it all in a nutshell: bravery, machismo and doing exactly what fighter pilots want to do: flying. Flying as a way of life. Danger - 53 procent change of dying as a test pilot during a 20-year career. Fast jets. A man's world. For Yeager being an astronaut was the wrong track. It had nothing to do with flying. Wrong track. Wrong stuff.

The book I finished reading last week reminded me of the scene above. Writer Dave "Bio" Baranek wrote in his book 'Topgun days' (2010) about his career as a radar intercept officer (RIO) in the Navy. He was not a pilot (front seat). He sat in the backseat. Flying was all Bio wanted to do. Live a fighter pilots life: flying in fast jets, outsmarting others in dogfights, learning and adapting. For 30 months Bio was an instructor at the US Navy Fighter Weapons School. It's the school we all know now by the name 'Topgun'.    

Lovely book. No real surprises for me. What struck me most was the fact that 'Topgun'-the-movie was a ripple in the day to day job of Bio. For him the movie was decoration. He was busy flying, doing his classes and being an instructor. Just a ripple.

P.s. Here a  real book review on book 'Topgun days'.
P.s.s. The scene above is my interpretation of 'The Right Stuff'. I saw the film >10 years ago. Can't remember the exact lines.
P.s.s.s. My blogs on flying: bookreview 'Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds'; history gliders in 3 pics; 3 pics fighter pilots how things changed in 100 years.

1 comment:

  1. My father would love to read those books. Thx! He was a navy pilot.