FLYING Magazine

Some years ago, I visited a friend of mine who is the manager of a private mountain airstrip. He said he had something to show me. We jumped in a side-by-side and drove up into the surrounding hills on a fire road. We then exited onto a freshly cut dirt trail that went directly up the side of a mountain.

After a few minutes of a steep, rough ride, we emerged into a clearing in the otherwise dense forest. Burn marks surrounded the mysterious, misshapen circle, and the ground was scorched black. Looking around, I could not find the culprit. It looked as if a fiery, pancake meteor had hit the earth, resulting in a non-crater.

Turns out it was an airplane. From the lack of a debris field you could tell the pilot plowed straight into the mountain. They had since removed all of the remains— both man and man-made. Bone and aluminum.


My friend told me the story behind the crash. A gentleman around my age had plans to see his girlfriend in another state. The morning he was set to depart was foggy and near zero/zero. But he was instrument rated and his airplane had a parachute. Let’s go!

From the propeller marks it was later determined the airplane was making power when it hit the ground, so he most likely suffered some type of spatial disorientation— my bet would be somatogravic illusion.

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I looked around the perimeter and found something in the weeds—a small, melted chunk of aluminum. I stared at the piece of metal in my hand and wondered, “Why didn’t he just wait a few hours?”

I could have titled this column “Pheromones” and made it a more generalized treatise about flying unsafely during courtship. But the truth is women aren’t this stupid. Just us. Men.

A woman would know that a man she liked would still be around in a few hours. They understand the theory of object permanence. Men, we wear blinders. We get tunnel vision. And miraculously, around this one particular subject—unlike, say, mowing the lawn or loading the dishwasher—we never, ever experience mission creep. We never lose the scent, so to speak.

I recently got a full panel of bloodwork done. My doctor called me in and told me that I was generally healthy, but she said the one thing that had changed was my testosterone levels. She explained that they were far lower than they had been in 2016, my last full test. She offered up supplements to bring them back up. I didn’t have to think long… Hard pass. I explained to her that the freedom of not being bound, pinned, and betrothed to that specific hormone was not something I would give up for anything.

In hindsight, if I were given the option to bring my levels down to where they are now back in 1989, I would gladly have done so. I would have made 20 more films, written a hundred more screenplays, and saved a million more dollars on drinks, meals, gifts, and who remembers what else—all working to appease one appendage with an outsized role in my decision-making process.

In the movie Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon’s character wants to “go see about a girl.” He’s very determined. He also has the sense to do this in a sedan and leaves Boston on an unusually sunny day. Well played, Matt. That being said, if he had access to a Bonanza on a typical overcast New England winter morning, I wonder if he would have waited for low IFR to lift before departing. My guess is no.

Most of you know about my incident in Telluride, Colorado, that I have written about extensively in these pages. There was a woman behind that. I had plans to fly to Santa Fe, New Mexico, with someone I had recently met, and whom I did not want to disappoint. Our morning got off to a late start and the winds had picked up. We missed our window. I pushed on. She was very beautiful. I totaled the airplane.

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In the earliest days of my flying career, when I had only my private pilot certificate and no airplane of my own, I was flying a woman from my home upstate to a racetrack in New Jersey in a rented Piper Cherokee. When we departed KMSV, it was clear and a million, but down at Millville there was a solid overcast about 1,200 feet agl. I looked for a hole. There was none. All my friends were waiting for me just under that shallow cloud layer below us. They had a race bike ready for me to ride. We circled for a few minutes as I weighed the options.

I had the compulsory few hours of instrument training needed for my private under my belt, but nothing more. I knew the terrain fairly well, having flown there on numerous occasions. And apparently that was all I needed to make a horrible (and illegal) judgment call when I decided to slowly spiral down into those clouds. I didn’t even know what an instrument approach procedure was back then.

I kept myself in a steady state turn descending at 500 fpm, knowing/praying the ceilings would spit me out where the ATIS promised. And they did. We landed safely. I explained my drenched shirt as a gland issue. My companion was duly impressed, and I was permitted to mate. But anyone reading this who has flown an airplane knows how easily this could have gone south.

There are other stories. I’ll save them for another time. And no need to call my insurer. With my additional years and commensurate drop in Mountain Dude (testosterone), those days are long behind me. I write about them here so that maybe I’ll reach a young pilot, swimming in hormones who has similar thoughts about what he might do to gain favor in a woman’s eyes.

And I hope no one reads this as anti-female.

Quite the opposite. Ironically, most women would not be impressed by this decision-making in the least. In fact, if they knew the risks you had taken without their consent, you would likely be kicked to the curb. If there were a being on this planet who would understand a flight delay brought on by real safety issues, it would be a woman. Women are patient and understanding and generally risk averse.

And, fellas, gonna let you in on a little secret… If she’s willing to get in an airplane with you at all, you can be sure she already likes you. So, take a cold shower and wait for VFR conditions and common sense to prevail.

To this day, I keep that hunk of melted aluminum in my flight bag. Sometimes I’ll even take it out and hold it. It’s a great reminder of what not to do when you want to “go see about a girl.”

This column first appeared in the December 2023/Issue 943 of FLYING’s print edition.

The post The Things We Men Pilots Do to Impress Women appeared first on FLYING Magazine.

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