On the head of a pin

In class I learned that the F-117 reacts to turbulent air as if it were on the head of a pin. It wobbles and twists, bobs and rolls, with no rhyme or reason as the flight control computer battles the invisible currents. Unseen bumps and waves can occur anywhere, but is some places you can count on them. Like just beneath the layer of glass upon the white puffies lay. Ever notice how the gray-white cumulus cloud bases all seem to settle at the same altitude, like cottonballs on a layer of glass? (I remind myself to marvel at sight, stretching a hundred miles across the Arizona desert, despite knowing the physics behind it.)

We were flying just beneath that glass in 4 F-117s. I was on the wing of the flight lead, fighting to stay in formation – and watching his jet wobble and roll – exactly as if it were balanced on the head of a pin! Nodding, slipping, and skidding along quite happily at over 300 miles per hour…

Many times, as I’ve flown into California, I’ve watched the dirt roads and hills pass beneath the plane and tried to find routes I’d ride if I lived there. So many hills and trails. So green and so many lakes and valleys. So here I am, for my first Xterra Triathlon – only as it turned out, it’s on Sunday, and my flight leaves Sunday morning. All the information I could find said this race was Saturday. So I wonder if the info on the web was bad, or if I just wasn’t reading thoroughly enough – which would fit well with so many things of late. I’m either too busy or too distracted to process the information I need. At least there was a duathlon that I could do and still make my flight. And it’s beautiful out here; the trails and the views are all I thought they’d be when I scouted them from above. More than that, I won my age group in the duathlon, I got to see a rattlesnake and watch a turtle eat, and best of all, I got to spend time with fellow crazy athletes: one of the few times in life when I can really relate to people.

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