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A fighter pilot tells us what the real Top Guns drive to work
John Gillespie Magee, Jr., an American serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force flying in a Spitfire squadron in Britain during the Second World War, wrote eloquently of having “[S]lipped the surly bonds of earth, and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; … wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence” and “flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.” Though he was tragically killed in a midair collision at the tender age of 19, Magee's poem “High Flight” remains a favorite of pilots the world over. What his moving prose fails to adequately describe is the stark brutality of aerial combat. It’s akin to a knife fight in a phone booth, only with the combatants’ knives worth multitudinous millions of dollars.
Excellent article. Seems to me the challenge shared for airplanes, cars, and motorcycles isn't speed. Its pressing the envelope. No flight experience, but I imagine the adrenalin really pumps when you're able to make an airplane do things outside its envelope - to push it to the point it begins to protest and then stuff it back in the envelope. Same for driving or riding on the ground. A tenth of the speed, but getting that car or bike outside its envelope and then consistently getting it back in may be equally exciting.