Following the Columbia
As professional pilots, we are accustomed to working on holidays, birthdays and myriad other occasions. We may feel especially distant when we are in far off lands where our traditions aren’t recognized. But once we get in the air, each day is a special day and surprises await beyond the horizon that make each day unique. We may lament the missed holiday, but we focus on our task of moving metal and people from place to place and barely give the day a thought until we return to earth. I began my celebration of (American) Independence Day in British Columbia this year with the silent statement of pride expressed by wearing a Sons of the American Revolution rosette on my uniform lapel. As we climbed out and into US airspace, I was overcome by the beauty of our land as seen by someone returning from afar (perhaps not so far this time). As we turned south, my eyes followed the Columbia River south of the Grand Coulee Dam until it turned toward the west. Mount Rainier loomed large like a great monument pinned to the horizon. The beauty of the Columbia lies in its expression of natural independence as it flows through the terrain unfettered, seeking its course and carrying the fortunes of man toward the Pacific Ocean beyond the horizon. Exploring the American landscape with our aerial perspective is a true gift and cause for constant rejoice…then we return to earth and readjust to the world of our earthbound friends… watching firework rockets and dreaming of being up in the air.