Saturday, May 28, 2016


Flew this week to SF and back. Some turbulence over Rockies. How grand to watch Warriors with Dave and Jim. Yell! When I got home read the details on Egypt air crash. Cozy&safe on my porch, with no expectations to fly again soon. Watched doc on The Last Man on the Moon - Gene Cernan. There he was, at beginning, sitting in cowboy hat at rodeo, and nobody about him knowing, he was the last man on the moon: A poem. Got to thinnin bout the 'pilot talk' best described by Tom Wolfe in The Right Stuff... (J.Vaughan)

Anyone who travels very much on airlines in the United States soon gets to know the voice of the airline pilot… coming over the intercom… with a particular drawl, a particular folksiness, a particular down-home calmness that is so exaggerated it begins to parody itself… the voice that tells you, as the airliner is caught in thunderheads and goes bolting up and down a thousand feet at a single gulp, to check your seat belts because 'uh, folks, it might get a little choppy'… 

Who doesn't know that voice! And who can forget it, - even after he is proved right and the emergency is over.  That particular voice may sound vaguely Southern or Southwestern, but it is specifically Appalachian in origin. It originated in the mountains of West Virginia, in the coal country, in Lincoln County, so far up in the hollows that, as the saying went, 'they had to pipe in daylight.' In the late 1940s and early 1950s this up-hollow voice drifted down from on high, from over the high desert of California, down, down, down, from the upper reaches of the [Pilot] Brotherhood into all phases of American aviation. It was amazing. It was Pygmalion in reverse. Military pilots and then, soon, airline pilots, pilots from Maine and Massachusetts and the Dakotas and Oregon and everywhere else, began to talk in that poker-hollow West Virginia drawl, or as close to it as they could bend their native accents. It was the drawl of the most righteous of all the possessors of the right stuff: Chuck Yeager.

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