Budd Davisson, 2000

I Don't Get it!
What Am I Missing Here?

Aging is an interesting process. On the one hand your body decides it is approaching the end of its warranty period and stuff starts going wrong while, on the other hand, your mind becomes increasingly aware of the world around you. You start to see things you didn't see before and you become frustrated that there is so much that won't get done. You also start to get a better understanding of how different parts of life relate, or don't relate, to one another. In my case, however, it has become crystal clear that there is a bunch of stuff the rest of the world has a complete handle on, but I just don't get. They understand it, but I don't.

One of life's more esoteric factors that I don't understand is the so-called "happy feet" style of flying tailwheel airplanes. I know this isn't an Earth-shaking problem to the general population, but I spend so much time giving tail wheel instruction, that repairing the damage done by that style of flying has become a real thorn in my side. I know the concept of teaching "happy feet" is to get the student's feet moving back and forth the second the taildragger hits the ground so he isn't sitting there doing nothing. I've always felt you do something only when the airplane asks for it; you don't keep giving it inputs in the hopes they average out straight-ahead. If you're dancing with your feet, you have no idea what the airplane is doing or what it needs. 'Just doesn't make sense to me.

And then there is golf. Yes, I know it is one of the world's leading past times, but I just don't get it. I realize the concept of trying to put a ball in a hole isn't that much different than my passion for long range target shooting, but I guess I'm just a little too rough-shod to understand the subtleties of beating a dimpled ball senseless. Apparently I like more noise and fire attached to my relaxation.

What I'd really like to understand is where, and how, the roots of passion are planted. A lot of people I know share dozens of different passions. Flying challenging airplanes is one. Absolutely loving the history of airplanes and what made them and their pilots what they weree, is another. Exotic firearms, cars, boats, etc. are guaranteed to kick off the fires of passion in these people. At the same time I'm totally aware that much of society looks at this group as being far out on the lunatic fringe. So, what's the difference? What makes some people passionate about their interests and others not? As far as that goes, why are some people driven to understand and interact with so many things around them while others are happy as clams to go through life ignoring the same factors that arouse other folks' interest?

I'd like to know why I hate flan, that pudding-like Mexican dessert. I think it's because the texture is so slimy. Yeeech!

I think it would be interesting to understand why maturity comes in so many different flavors, assuming it comes at all. So many people get old long before their time because their brains take on an old-folks mind-set. Others barge through life and hang onto their enthusiasm for the things they've always loved and that love keeps them young. I hope I'm in the latter group, because I often wonder how I managed to get this old and still love exactly the same things I did when I was nineteen. I must have missed the required class on maturity.

Some things are better off not being understood; punk rock music tops that list.

I don't understand how a pilot can go through his or her entire flying career and have no desire to at least experience aerobatics. Not doing aerobatics is like floating around on top of the ocean and ignoring all the possibilities that lay beneath the surface. Aerobatics is the other half of flying.

I don't understand why people prefer automatic transmissions to stick shifts. Of course, I don't like recoil-pads on high-powered rifles either.

I don't understand how tailwheel airplanes suddenly got a reputation as being so hard to fly. Flying a tailwheel is just an another technique and learning it opens up a new world populated by really neat airplanes.

Guitars are so easy to play, why don't more people play them?

Where are the kids? Why don't we see more of them building model airplanes? Forget the expensive R/C birds, why not U-control models? This is where most of us got our start. Where is the new generation starting out?

Yeah, I know; these aren't exactly world-shaking philosophical concepts, and there are lots more where those came from. I don't expect to get concise answers, but just once I'd like to look around and think I had a chance of understanding at least a portion of life. Of course, if I understood it more, I might enjoy it less. So maybe I should just shut up and drive.