When fear turns into passion

Noises…, yes, sudden, unexpected noises, and perhaps even more so inexplicable noises really terrified me when I was a kid. Thunder, firecrackers, an abrupt backfire of an old bike, oh man… I was petrified. If I feared a repeat performance, like during an electrical storm, fireworks, or a bike race, I ran for cover.

A strange roar or a deep rumble coming from above had a similar effect. Since the suddenness of a cracking thunder was missing, those sounds had more time to generate an almost primordial fear in me. Whenever I was out in our huge yard while the threatening sound waves radiated down I ran into the house to seek pillows, blankets, anything to bury my head or stuff into my ears.

And then, with almost the same sudden impact as the threatening noises, something changed. Instead of hiding under my bed I ran out and looked up, moved out of the shadow of the huge cherry tree in our yard to see better what was going on in the sky.

Four years old I was then, they told me later. Big airliners, small biplanes, helicopters, everything that flew made me look up. From one day to the next living under a wide downwind leg of Nuremberg’s new airport wasn’t a nuisance anymore, it was the best place to be for me.

Where did this change come from?

Out of the blue, literally. There was no pilot, no flying in my family – none of my parents, brothers, uncles or aunts had any relation to the sky. I was – and am – the “weird” one, the outlier.

From that day on I wanted to become a pilot, of course, flying big airplanes to places far away. And anybody who took me to the “visitor-fence” of the airport became my favorite uncle.
My preferred toys were model airplanes, later I read every book about flying, airplanes and pilots I could get a hold of and never let go of my goal to become a professional pilot.
Life, however, had other plans and in the end I became a physicist.
Alas, my passion for flying never subsided. But instead of driving Air-buses around the world on schedule, I learned to fly gliders. That way I got to know the sky in a much more intimate way, and fell in love with what a lot of pros call the best way to fly.

Dancing with the wind, playing among clouds, enjoying what the interplay of Nature’s forces with advanced aerodynamics offered, that’s what I spent most of my free time on. Whenever I slid into the cockpit of my long-winged beauty and closed the canopy I felt at home, felt (the embrace of) an intense enthusiasm for what was about to come.

Wow, that last sentence could very well serve as (my) definition of passion, I guess.

Back in the days of my first toy airplanes (photo above) I didn’t know what passion is, my relatives called me “airplane-crazy”, and since the word “airplane” was involved I didn’t mind the “crazy”.

No flying dreams in those times, the only ones I remember were of the boogie man.