Like Phoenix from the ashes . . .
My dream woke up in the most unlikely of all places: during the first session of an extended creative arts workshop. Before presenting my photography project I introduced myself and briefly mentioned my flying activities. They triggered quite a few questions culminating in the crucial one:
“How would you follow your passion for flying if time and money were no issue?”
To date I still don’t know where my answer came from – from somewhere deep down, I suppose – but it came spontaneously:
“I would spend a summer crisscrossing the US in an old taildragger.”
In that moment I didn’t make the connection and as the questions continued the dream seemed to go hiding again.
“Well, money is an issue, in fact” I replied. And that put the discussion to rest, but something inside me kept stirring.
Fast forward six months: while hiking with Marta, my girlfriend who also participated in that creative workshop, we suddenly heard a sound, quite unusual for the area, but all too familiar to me – the sound of the engine of a small airplane. We looked up, and lo and behold, a Cessna flew by, perhaps 1000ft above us.
We were close to a small town at the end of the world, in the foothills of the Andes. Yes, there’s an airport nearby with two daily connections to Buenos Aires, about 1000 miles to the East, but small airplanes are very rare birds around here.
The sound had hardly faded when Marta asked me:
“How is your project coming along?”
“Which project?” I asked slightly confused, trying to figure out what she might be talking about.
“Your flying trip in that taildragger-plane, of course !” She looked at me with a mixture of astonishment and annoyance in her eyes.
“Don’t you remember the discussion during my presentation?” I replied, “I don’t have the money to do that.”
“Of course, you do!” she insisted, ”in the end it’s only the trip itself on which you spend some money, the airplane you buy and sell afterwards”. Well, Marta is Argentine and as true daughter of her country she believes that if one has more than a few thousand bucks in savings one is missing out on life and that it’s high time to change that.
Never mind her “slightly” different perspective, her poking me with questions re taildragger-trip haunted me for a couple of days and made me think. Above all she had hit against a very German attitude of mine: “save in good times, so you have in bad times”.
Now here, as in almost every other situation, there are tons of proverbs encouraging totally opposed action. In the end decision making boils down to personal preference, risk versus reward analysis and endorphin-levels.
In this case it must have been the endorphins: I took her comments seriously and began to imagine “what if there was a way” – scenarios.
And that was enough – my dream began to stir violently. With all its power it enlisted my passion to drive me into action.
The “Barnstorming Project” – as I called it early on – was born.