Robin Olds on Pilots

A pilot is a man in love, a man whose emotional ties with a piece of machinery run deep. HIs bluff expressions are protective devices meant to hide the tenderness in his heart when talk turns to flying. Man merges with machine; he doesn’t simply use it. You don’t climb into an aircraft and sit down. You strap the machine to your butt, become one with it. Hydraulic fluid is your blood; titanium, steel, and aluminum, your bones; electrical currents, your nerves; the instruments, an extension of your senses; fuel, the food; engine, the power; the control surfaces, the muscle. You are the heart, yours is the will, yours the reasoning power. You are something more than earthbound man. You are augmented and expanded by the miracle of the machine. You are tied to it physically and you are part of it emotionally.

To some, these feelings seem utterly inappropriate in relation to military flying and the grim purposes of war, but for combat pilots there is no such ambivalence. The realities of danger and the tensions of conflict serve only to heighten the bond between man and machine.

–Robin Olds in Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds

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About Eric Chandler

Husband. Father. Pilot. Cross Country Skier. Writer. Author of Outside Duluth and Down In It.
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