Cockpit Author

@Altitude’s intrepid pilot, Jeremy Rowsell writes short stories that have been inspired at high altitudes in his cockpit and on land while in preparation mode for his risky flight adventures. @Altitude Productions are currently at publisher pitch stage with a coffee table book and intends to be an extension to the 2013 On Wings of Waste documentary release.

This coffee table book will tell the remarkable story of this pilot’s solo journey, by way of proving the 1st 100% recyclable plastic fuel  flight from Sydney to London – a technology which has never been attempted to date! Here is an excerpt:

The Cafe

This cafe is like all others, but I am different. No one knows, none see but as I sit quietly at the table, I peel off the old me. It feels like the release of leaving school. You know you are no longer you, yet are unsure who you have become.

Over there, a man eats his burger, talk’s weather, cars, sport just like a normal day. The coffee machine hums and the voices of the room mask the sounds of my heart beating in my ears. The birds move outside the window, the grass is the same green of the car I drove here in, it is the same beat up wreck it was yesterday. For me, though, this day is alive, its real, I have gone through every preparation now, nothing is left to do. I have made my calls making arrangements for tomorrow. I must face the possibility by lunch tomorrow I might perhaps have disappeared into the oblivion that is death. It has a strange taste, almost metallic. It’s strange to think of it as where I am now is a place I find familiar, a warm house on a cold morning.

I ponder why am I am doing this, sitting in cafe knowing that at first light I will take off in single engined plane that is overweight, filled with fuel and start on a journey of hour on hour overwater. For tomorrow, we fly the Pacific. Jim, my elderly wise flying companion is so at home in the vast expanse of blue, none of this even registers, but to me, this is the stuff of dreams, of myth, past heroes long gone expired in their own dreams. My present is now all my own, I control whether I live or die by the gentle caress of my hands over the controls of the plane and the vagaries of fate that will allow me over the ocean.

The past few days have been hectic, checking the engine, fuel and oil flows carefully, flight tests, paper more paper, winds and winds checked and checked again. I know the ocean winds now, how they move, they swirl, and their pattern. I am having my first date with a most magical mistress, the Pacific. She only gives you windows of chance to fly the big distance to Hawaii from California. Many have misjudged this and lie peacefully within her depths, sleeping the long sleep. Tomorrow is such a window, the winds are with us and we go. I have for so long wondered whether I would be good enough for this moment, will I meet the challenge I have set for myself, will I be the man I thought I was. I don't know until I go. I ready myself. I am scared but utterly alive.

The cafe goes quiet as the lunchtime rush passes through and people focus on doing a little more work before heading home to their families and homes. For me, I am anxious but sit still, lost in my moment, adrenalin teases my body. I have learnt to control it, harness it, but still I feel anxious. I have been helped by so many to get to this point. I have trained and found the best to train me but training never replaces doing - at some point one has to jump. I had seen the wreck of a fellow pilots’ plane the day before and like all pilots we talked over what went wrong - his mistakes learnt to avoid our own.

I breathe in, settle and think through my tasks. As I sit, a strange transition occurs, I feel myself asking the Ocean for permission to cross her, I am becoming part of her already - – dead in terms of who I was - as the man I am now knows that tomorrow I will forever change. Live or die I will become part of the blue, joined to the ocean, the planet and her winds, her flows. I am no more and so I cease to fear, I can only control what I can, the rest is at the hands of my fate, my destiny.

I sip my coffee and engage in small talk with the waitress, she asks if we'll be in for lunch tomorrow I say "probably not, flying tomorrow", she smiles and bids me good day. I smile partly at her but as I look back I see myself left behind - a ghost - for now I am become new. ©