Alyssa Miller

For the joy of flight

October 13, 2010 by Alyssa Miller, AOPA Online Managing Editor

As I soaked up the changing autumn leaves during a leisure flight before work this week, I couldn’t help but reflect on the freedoms we enjoy flying in the United States. I woke up early, drove to the airport, performed a pre-flight, and listened to the ATIS before departing Frederick for a short, local flight. Visibility was unrestricted, and the winds were calm. I didn’t need to call flight service for a briefing or file a flight plan. I didn’t need to worry about being denied access to the airspace that morning.

Alexander during a test flight.

My thoughts turned to two pilots I met in Russia a few months ago during a mission trip. Alexander and Nikoli have been flying since the 1970s and are part of a flying club in Ryazan (just south of Moscow) that builds aircraft and has an aerial application operation. They build the Mikc500 (pronounced Mix), a part composite, part metal aircraft powered by a 100 horsepower Rotax engine and equipped with a ballistic parachute. Alexander performs the test flights.

He is a former military pilot with more than 10,000 hours and has flown the Tupolev 95. Nikoli, a civilian pilot, has more than 14,000 hours and has flown cargo, aerial applicators, and crews of geologists to northern Russia. But to have so much flight experience, both have to undergo a 24-hour process now every time they want to fly.

They must submit an application for their flight 24 hours in advance. Then, they call to see if the application has been received. They call again two hours in advance of the flight to see if they have been granted permission to fly. They’ve been denied many times. If their flight is approved, the calls don’t stop there. They must call every hour in addition to announcing their departure and landing times. They have to do this every time they fly.

Nikoli explaining how they build their aircraft.

I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d still be flying if I had to go through that process day after day. Then, Nikoli explained to me why he keeps flying, “It’s a kind of drug.” Alexander added that “after the stress of earth, it is relaxing” to be in the air. When they can’t be in the air, building aircraft serves as a release. “Making our own airplanes brings us joy,” Alexander told me, adding that it is exciting but scary during those first test flights. But how many times had their anticipation of a test flight been delayed because their application for a flight was denied?

However, as we continued to talk (with the help of an interpreter), I noticed the same familiar bond that I have with other pilots in the United States who don’t face these same restrictions day in and day out. The twinkle in their eyes as they talked about flying made me realize that, if I had to, I would endure those same hardships for the same reason they do…for the joy of flight. I’d venture to say that many pilots, worldwide, are the same. Once we’ve tasted flight, we can’t turn back or give up.

6 Responses to “For the joy of flight”

  1. Clédis José Torquete Says:

    Gostei muito do site. Parabéns!

    Torquete

  2. Clédis José Torquete Says:

    Muito bom o site!
    Torquete

  3. Frank Arrison Says:

    I know the point of the article was to illustrate the relative freedom to fly in the U.S., but I think your pre-flight procedures were over simplified just a bit. In these post 9/11 days, good (and safe and legal) habits really should include a check of TFR’s and NOTAM’s before you head out.

  4. Eugene Letter Says:

    IN AMERICA OUR FOREFATHERS FOUGHT FOR THE RIGHT OF LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. FLYING IS JUST THAT AND HOPE THAT THIS ARTICLE REMINDS US ALL THAT WE CANNOT BE FORCED BY EXCESSIVE RULES AND REGULATIONS ESPECIALLY AFTER 911 AND THE HYSTERIA THAT HAS EVOLVED.

    AS AMERICANS INCLUDING THOSE OF US PILOTS, MUST KEEP THIS REGULATORY PROCESS FROM GETTING TO THE POINT THAT OUR SYSTEM WILL BE LIKE RUSSIA, ONLY BY VOTING AND FIGHTING FOR OUR FREEDOM AND NOT CHANGE OUR EXISTING RULES WILL WE CONTINUE OUR PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS IN THE AIR, LAND AND SEA..

    IN THE REGULATORY PROCESS RULES ARE SOMETIMES HIDDEN AS WE WELL KNOW. IT IS UP TO US TO INTERCEPT THEM AND THE MAKERS OF THEM ( MORE THAN LIKELY BY THE TERRORIST FACTIONS THEMSELVES).

    GOD BLESS AMERICA!.

  5. Eugene Letter Says:

    IN AMERICA OUR FOREFATHERS FOUGHT FOR THE RIGHT OF LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. FLYING IS JUST THAT AND HOPE THAT THIS ARTICLE REMINDS US ALL THAT WE CANNOT BE FORCED BY EXCESSIVE RULES AND REGULATIONS ESPECIALLY AFTER 911 AND THE HYSTERIA THAT HAS EVOLVED.

    AS AMERICANS INCLUDING THOSE OF US PILOTS, MUST KEEP THIS REGULATORY PROCESS FROM GETTING TO THE POINT THAT OUR SYSTEM WILL BE LIKE RUSSIA, ONLY BY VOTING AND FIGHTING FOR OUR FREEDOM AND NOT CHANGE OUR EXISTING RULES WILL WE CONTINUE OUR PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS IN THE AIR, LAND AND SEA..

    IN THE REGULATORY PROCESS RULES ARE SOMETIMES HIDDEN AS WE WELL KNOW. IT IS UP TO US TO INTERCEPT THEM AND THE MAKERS OF THEM ( MORE THAN LIKELY BY THE TERRORIST FACTIONS THEMSELVES).

    GOD BLESS AMERICA!.

    THANK YOU

  6. Eugene Letter Says:

    IN AMERICA OUR FOREFATHERS FOUGHT FOR THE RIGHT OF LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. FLYING IS JUST THAT AND HOPE THAT THIS ARTICLE REMINDS US ALL THAT WE CANNOT BE FORCED BY EXCESSIVE RULES AND REGULATIONS ESPECIALLY AFTER 911 AND THE HYSTERIA THAT HAS EVOLVED.

    AS AMERICANS INCLUDING THOSE OF US PILOTS, MUST KEEP THIS REGULATORY PROCESS FROM GETTING TO THE POINT THAT OUR SYSTEM WILL BE LIKE RUSSIA, ONLY BY VOTING AND FIGHTING FOR OUR FREEDOM AND NOT CHANGE OUR EXISTING RULES WILL WE CONTINUE OUR PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS IN THE AIR, LAND AND SEA..

    IN THE REGULATORY PROCESS RULES ARE SOMETIMES HIDDEN AS WE WELL KNOW. IT IS UP TO US TO INTERCEPT THEM AND THE MAKERS OF THEM ( MORE THAN LIKELY BY THE TERRORIST FACTIONS THEMSELVES).

    GOD BLESS AMERICA!.
    MAY FREEDOM RING!

Leave a Reply

*