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Peter Egan is one of my favorite motorcyle writers, (couple of his books "Leanings" and "Leanings 2") in Cycle World this month he had a very good article comparing (and contrasting) flying a small airplane and riding a motorcycle. The last couple paragraphs below summed the article up nicely and makes you go .....hmmmm....how true....
I thought it was worth sharing and discussing.

Below is posted without permission as written by Peter Egan.

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.....In full flight, with either bikes or planes, all your senses are engaged and you become hyper-alert.

Maybe that's the link: The thing flying and motorcycling have most in common is that you simply must pay attention. Your life depends on it. Both sports, you might say, are naturally riveting.

Of course, the same may be said of mountain climbing, whitewater canoeing, sky diving, bicycle racing, downhill skiing and mountain biking. (Notice how all these sports involve a rapid elevation change. A form of falling, as it were, skillfully arrested).

In any case, it's that paying attention thing I like best.

Winston Churchill once remarked that nothing is more exhilarating than to be shot at and missed. Well, pilots and motorcyclists are shot at quite often, figuratively speaking, and called upon to arrange their own near misses.

Which is a good thing, in my opinion. Life is full of perfectly nice activities that don't require this kind of concentration, but most of them seem to me only half interesting.

As I discovered at many parties and social gatherings over the years, I'm never really comfortable-or completely awake-around people who are unacquainted with the invigorating joys of mild panic.
 

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Well put.
I fly small planes, too, and I agree there is a close kinship with riding.
Mainly, I think, there is that "zen-like" thing that everyone talks about but nobody can quite explain... I think it has to do with the way your mind and body respond to a period of intense focus on your environment and on a complex set of tasks.
There is also the sheer physical joy of operating a conveyance that makes use of the laws of nature rather than fighting them. That's another thing that kayaks and bicycles and skis have in common besides elevation change. Our bikes, just like airplanes, want to turn when operated correctly, and it just feels different than muscling a 4-wheeler through a flat turn.
On the hazard side there are similarities: the stakes are high for relatively small goof-ups, for one thing. But the big difference is that, most of the time, in an airplane you have time to correct a small problem. So you drifted a quarter-mile off course, you just drift on back and your passengers won't notice... so you have converging traffic five miles away, you just adjust course and keep an eye on him for a while... so your engine quits at 4000 feet, in the planes I fly I have five or more minutes before my wheels are on the ground somewhere... time to investigate the problem, call flight watch, pick out a safe place to come down...
But on a bike you are seconds, if not milliseconds, away from the consequences of a mistake -- yours or someone else's. You don't have miles of air around you, you have feet... you can reach out and touch the other traffic sometimes... and if you have a critical mechanical failure you will probably be on the ground before you have time to think through the situation. The type of concentration, then, is similar, yet different.
The biggest difference, I think, is that in the air you have a certain amount of screening effect that limits the danger other pilots can pose to you. Of course there are people who make mistakes and act irresponsibly on occasion, but these are people who have at the minimum passed a training program that is many, many times more comprehensive than driver training. While you can generally trust that the pilots of other planes are going to act sensibly (always allow yourself that little grain of doubt though), you can pretty much count on other drivers acting insanely.
What we do shows our beliefs better than what we say. Here's my personal belif in action: my 16-year-old is working on his private pilot certificate, with my total support. He wants to learn to ride a motorcycle... I've said not yet. I want to see more maturity, more experience on the road, and the BRC first. Because frankly I think riding is magnitudes more dangerous than flying.
 

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My wife has always wanted to learn to fly. For Christmas, I arranged for her to take a Discovery flight where she got to take off and fly the plane. The pilot just gave verbal instructions, made minor corrections, and landed the plane. My wife couldn't wipe the smile off of her face the rest of the day. I've never flown a plane, but I knew exactly how she felt.
 

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spoupard said:
My wife has always wanted to learn to fly. For Christmas, I arranged for her to take a Discovery flight where she got to take off and fly the plane. The pilot just gave verbal instructions, made minor corrections, and landed the plane. My wife couldn't wipe the smile off of her face the rest of the day. I've never flown a plane, but I knew exactly how she felt.
Landing is the hard part
 

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With the experiences I have had flying and motorcycling I much prefer aggravation at 5,000 ft. then being on the ground on a bike dealing with a cager who doesn't have a clue.

As pointed out in the previous post, you have time in the air in a small aircraft but as stated you have little to no time on a bike. It's a split second deal and sometimes even input by you on your bike cannot save your butt. I believe that in a panic situation, reflexes are going to take over on your bike versus pulling out an emergency check list and start working through your flight problems.

Interestingly. one of the biggest mistakes most amateur pilots make is flying into bad weather when they are not rated for such adverse conditions and conversely bikers can sometimes do the same thing, ride above their experience level or push themselves beyond their limits or their bikes design limits.

I love motorcycling, but feel safer behind the yoke of an airplane. :)

Chris
 

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I fly a single engine turboprop and the thing that I have always noticed since I began flying is that when I drive a car afterwards it seems as though everything is in slow motion. I think flying tends to hypercharge the mind because you are tasking on so many levels that when you get on the ground and in a car, the task loading is so much lower, your mind is on near idle.

I had somewhat similar experiences when I raced bikes but still not to the same degree as I get with flying.
 

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flying low

Ok, I'll chime in as well.

I'm also a general aviation pilot and have often pondered on the differences and similarities of flying and riding a motorcycle. Everything I've read on the posts - I agree with.

I think flying offers that true three dimensional sensation that is really hard to find anywhere else. Most of the time flying does give you a little more time to react until it gets hairy and then you have almost no time. Also, more folks walk away from having their bikes go down unintentionally, than when their airplanes go down unintentionally.

I think I feel more of a challenge as a person in the air, and more challenged by other persons on the ground.

Flying is probably more satisfying, but riding is probably more fun.

But whether driving the car, flying the airplane, or riding the bike I'm often heard saying when I turn of the engine, "Well, we cheated death again."
 

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Christopher said:
Interestingly. one of the biggest mistakes most amateur pilots make is flying into bad weather when they are not rated for such adverse conditions and conversely bikers can sometimes do the same thing, ride above their experience level or push themselves beyond their limits or their bikes design limits.

Chris
When I made the decicion to ride a motorcycle I took the BRC and in a few weeks bought my first bike. I can't count the fights I had with my husband (an extremely experienced rider) over limiting myself to riding within my experience.
Several years and many thousands of miles later, I understand completely. When I meet anyone who says they either just bought a bike or they're considering riding for the first time. I find myself quoting my husband.
I don't fly, but I've always thought it was one of man's greatest scientific achievements. It makes me wish I had more time off. I already have more toys than I have time to play with.
 

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I'm never really comfortable-or completely awake-around people who are unacquainted with the invigorating joys of mild panic.
I completely agree with that. I'd even go so far as to say that I find it hard to respect other guys my age who are scared of taking risks.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
downinit25i said:
I'm never really comfortable-or completely awake-around people who are unacquainted with the invigorating joys of mild panic.
I completely agree with that. I'd even go so far as to say that I find it hard to respect other guys my age who are scared of taking risks.
We have a winner!!! This is exactly the line I thought most interesting and indentified with from the beginning, and the reason I posted.

I could fall asleep standing when talk at a party goes to a vigorous tennis game, a golf shot, or shopping event..... :roll:
 

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Re: flying low

bikerrev said:
But whether driving the car, flying the airplane, or riding the bike I'm often heard saying when I turn of the engine, "Well, we cheated death again."
Funny, that's what I say when I wake up in the morning... :lol:
 

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cbjr0256 said:
In any case, it's that paying attention thing I like best.

Which is a good thing, in my opinion. Life is full of perfectly nice activities that don't require this kind of concentration, but most of them seem to me only half interesting.

As I discovered at many parties and social gatherings over the years, I'm never really comfortable-or completely awake-around people who are unacquainted with the invigorating joys of mild panic.
I agree with the sentiment, however I think he is using "panic" incorrectly. Panic is letting fear control you, it leads to cowardness.
Fear on the other hand is a wonderful emotion. All of your senses are topped out and your body is running at the peak like you just took a shot of race fuel. Being afraid is OK, caving to fear is not.
Any kind of activity that makes you concentrate with some chance of getting hurt takes you into the fear, losing control is what happens when you panic.
I an not a pilot, I do shoot some low level high power competition. There are a lot of things that are similar in the concentration area. You HAVE to be wrapped into what you are doing to do it well and know your equipment. You have to use your whole body in both, and engage your mind to what is happening next. Its kind of like Obi Wan and the force. When you are on, you know what will happen before it does. If you are having a off day, you wont do well, shooting or riding. In each, what just happend is insignificant. If you just shot a 5, or if you just had your rear tire kick on a patch of wet tar, it is over, you cant dwell on it, you have to move on.
 

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shrek said:
spoupard said:
My wife has always wanted to learn to fly. For Christmas, I arranged for her to take a Discovery flight where she got to take off and fly the plane. The pilot just gave verbal instructions, made minor corrections, and landed the plane. My wife couldn't wipe the smile off of her face the rest of the day. I've never flown a plane, but I knew exactly how she felt.
Landing is the hard part
shrek,


"Landing is the hard part"
I have many, many hours buzzing along in small aircraft, and I have to say ....

Heck no shrek, landing is easy, what goes up must come down!...However, getting that one you can walk away from....now that takes a little practice.

John
 

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Olivereaman said:
shrek said:
spoupard said:
My wife has always wanted to learn to fly. For Christmas, I arranged for her to take a Discovery flight where she got to take off and fly the plane. The pilot just gave verbal instructions, made minor corrections, and landed the plane. My wife couldn't wipe the smile off of her face the rest of the day. I've never flown a plane, but I knew exactly how she felt.
Landing is the hard part
shrek,


"Landing is the hard part"
I have many, many hours buzzing along in small aircraft, and I have to say ....

Heck no shrek, landing is easy, what goes up must come down!...However, getting that one you can walk away from....now that takes a little practice.

John
:D
 

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I loved the quote, Ive been rockclimbing and paddeling whitewater for years and always equated it with motorcycling. I dont get the same adrenalin rush that I do on a big wall, but its still there only more drawn out.
Peace.....Brad
 

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I have to graciously disagree with the panic thing. Panic is uncontrolled fear. How panic can be mild escapes me entirely.

My approach to flying affects the way I ride, and my outlook on fear and panic are the same in both cases.

I don't allow myself to do either at the edge of fear or panic. The idea is not to flirt with risk, the idea is to control it. Training, equipment, practice, staying within limits... all those are risk control stragegies.
Living for an occasional shot of mild panic, as a pilot, leads to thinking it might be cool to poke a hole in that little cloud over there (without an instrument rating) or that it won't hurt to squeeze the takeoff distance a bit -- just pucker a little tighter and pick up your feet as we skim the trees.
You just don't want to go there.

Now it's true that we "accept" a certain amount of risk when we fly light planes or ride motorcycles, and that's part of the kick -- but as for me I "accept" risk on my terms, not on lady luck's.

May seem like semantics to some, but it's a big difference to me.

-Glenn
 

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Oh, and about landings -- I like to say that all takeoffs are optional, all landings are mandatory.

Landing proficiently isn't any harder than flying proficiently at 5000 feet. It's just that the "proficiency" part is relative, and a lot more urgent during the landing. Nobody in the hangar knows if you skidded half a mile on the turns out over the pastures, but bounce the landing and they're all watching. :oops:

-G
 

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Because frankly I think riding is magnitudes more dangerous than flying.
I agree, and I think that although parallels can be drawn, I would like to point out a few differences seen as I have 2500 solo hours under my belt in small aircraft, namely Cessna 172, 205 and 3 hours in a Mikoumi (sorry about the spelling.)

As a pilot, I am far better trained then as a biker (most bikers can not state the physics behind a bike but all pilots can recite Bernoulli’s theorem, and understand it), and so are those that occupy my air space. Additionally, we have ATC as somewhat a second pair of eyes to warn us of traffic we may not have made a visual on. The instrumentation today at least is far superior to what we have on our bikes. All this taken into account makes for a slightly different experience. Also, anyone can stop at a bar on their bike (or in a car) and then resume a ride. If I showed up with alcohol on my breath at my tiny airport, I was done for flying. 12 hour bottle to throttle is the law and more then not most pilots won’t drink the night before a flight.

My flight instructor’s day one “there are old pilots, there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots”

We can train as biker as much as we care, but who knows the skill level of the cager next to you.

Just my .02
 
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