The alternative to flying is cowardice,
And what is said against it excuses, excuses
- William Meredith, “Notes for an Elegy”
It was a horrible shock to learn today our friend Steven Hering has passed away. He was 61.
Steve blogged on the right side as The Asian Badger, and then carried over into Twitter. When I met Steve, I liked him right away. He had a throwback voice to go with his throwback persona – as in he liked to throw a few back. He was direct, even blunt, funny, intelligent and sharp.
He’s probably asking right now, “What’s with all the maudlin shit, Wiggy?” Well, Steve, you’re not in a position to say anything, are you? By the way, Steve, thanks for the notice.
Steve was a pilot, and every good pilot has good stories. One story Steve told was a command performance. I say that because I requested to hear it on at least two occasions, and heard it on two more. It involved Mariah Carey being late for a plane. I’m not going to recount it here because it needs Steve’s voice, facial expressions, and his hilarious impression of his boss. But Ms. Carey knows it, and that’s good enough.
As much as he touched the lives of his fellow conservative bloggers in Wisconsin, the real story is how Steve touched the lives of his passengers on medical flights. These were often children with heartbreaking medical conditions. He wrote of one trip,
Your intrepid blogger was up early on 4/26/08 to go out to the western edges of the Upper Midwest to bring in a little kid who needs some surgery. I can’t give any details about the little kid, of course, but the headwinds were over 80mph at altitude making the flight out very bumpy and creating a “crab” angle of about 20-30 degress in AB1.
Not a lot of fun. I’m happy I was alone on the outbound leg since I didn’t need the hassle of anyone getting airsick. I did however, have the foresight for a change to load some bags and airsick medicine for the return leg.
The little kid was at the airport with her parents. Nice people in their late twenties. Dad had to stay behind to work so Mom (a MILF if there ever was one) and the little kid were kind of apprehensive since AB1 isn’t all that big a plane. It didn’t help that we couldn’t find a grounding wire to top off the tanks (you ground the plane when refueling so you don’t have a massive fireball in case of static electricity).
It reminded me again of the bravery of innocence if you will. The little girl knew she was sick but couldn’t be bothered to compare it to anything because she’s always been sick. She also knew that somehow, it would all work out in the end and, since death is a meaningless word at this time in her life, it doesn’t occur to her. The total cynic that is moi is always refreshed by this attitude and makes me realize that the “Big Guy Upstairs” is really looking over all of us all the time. Given my piloting skills, it’s a good thing, too.
Well, the guy found the wire, AB1 got refueled and everyone got settled in. The little kid was bummed she couldn’t use her cell phone but that’s just the way it goes. I did let her do the “gear up” takeoff thing (she really enjoyed that since we picked up about 25 knots and I was able to, literally, stand AB1 on her tail) and the next thing I know, we’re at 9000ft doing about 260 knots pretty smoothly thanks to the tailwind. Weeeeeeeeeeee. AB1 usually maxes out at about 190 knots in calm air.
Unfortunately, not every story was so happy.
As my blog readers know, I do the volunteer medivac thing as just that…a volunteer. It’s round trip service for everyone win or lose.
Sometimes, things work out great.
To be honest about it, usually they don’t. What makes this one even tougher than usual is that the family, including a very sick YM were just optimistic and hopeful as could be. The YM handled my “patient” take-off maneuver with aplomb. On top of that, he asked some very intelligent questions about flying (despite seeming to be in great pain) and seemed to have an instinctive understanding about the cockpit flight deck. He could have been a pilot.
I referenced above that some flights suck. This is going to be one of them. I’m not a parent so I can’t imagine what his parents are feeling but I’m not going to be a happy camper when I bring it back to the Home Base. No buzzing on this one.
Steve was not a subtle blogger. He once wrote, “Well, inspired by Belling and the fact that I don’t like shit in my drinking water when I dine in Milwaukee, I thought I would pass along how inept Mayor Tom Barrett is when it comes to MMSD.” His final post on Twitter said, “Dear Barack Hussein 0bama……Fuck You. That is all.”
Steve was an investor, a veteran who flew F-14 Tomcats, a photography enthusiast, and a world traveler. He cast his eyes skyward and his spirit followed. His friends on the ground will miss him terribly. RIP.
Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.
Hamlet Act I, scene 2, line 72.