One of the perks of working at 88NV is the chance to get to go up on a flight. Most pilots don't fly into Burning Man with the intention of parking their plane for the week. No, their plan is to be up in the sky as much as possible in order to see the city in action. And also because they love flying. Why become a pilot if you don't love to fly? And unless a pilot has a single-seater, they're willing to take people up with them. Because of this, the airport is clamoring with festival attendees trying desperately to get up into the air with a pilot sporting an empty seat. Since I worked at the airport, I wasn't going to have to try, all I'd have to do was ask. Enter the Breezy.
Do you know what a Breezy is? I'm assuming you looked at the picture below already, so yes, you know. Prior to this year, I had no idea that such a thing existed, so I'll describe it for those of you that are the me from last year. It's a cockpitless plane that is somewhere between an airplane and a horrifying psychological torture device. It's a flying floorboard. Paul, one of the pilots and airport crew members, had a Breezy, and while parked innocently in the parking lot so carefully staked out the week before, I had an interest in going up for a flight.
|Photo Courtesy of Paul the Pilot|
I don't know if I've ever had so much fun being so terrified in my life. I've gone sky diving and scrambled down rocksliding mountain sides, and neither compared. The rush was exhilarating, the view spectacular, the experience overwhelming, and the whole time I was convinced I was going to die. I was letting loose a mix of "holy shits" covering every possible intention of the phrase. Even though my first impulse was cling as desperately to worst case scenarios as I was to the bottom of my seat, there was a bit of me that was pretty sure that we weren't going to crash. For starters, Paul was a professional pilot. On top of that he had a primary interest in not crashing for his own sake, regardless of mine. My survivalist brain was convinced that I would go flying off the little platform seat, something that really wasn't possible with how tightly I was strapped in. Maybe the whole seat would just go flying off? Also not likely since Paul's wife usually occupied that seat on their flights. Each gust of wind further reinforced the fact that this was going to be the last thing I did on this Earth. It wasn't until after we landed and rolled to a stop that I finally accepted the fact that I was not going to die. How ironic would it have been if I had an unrelated aneurysm later that day? I would've felt like such an idiot for being afraid of the Breezy in the moments preceding my sudden death.
In any case, thank you, Paul! If ever I get the chance to fly with you again, I can guarantee that I will be just as terrified the second, third, fourth, and n-th time we go up into the sky. That's probably half the reason I want to go. Just ask anyone who's watched a horror film with me.