Monday, May 11, 2009

The healing powers of flight

In the fall of 2006, I made my annual trip to my non-aviation doctor. I generally do this several months before I go and see my AME (aviation medical examiner) to get my medical, which allows me to fly and not go insane. He did not like my blood pressure readings. He had mentioned that it was a little high the year before. I was not outside the FAA limits, but there was a trend that just didn't look good.
I like to think that I lead a pretty healthy lifestyle. I was getting some exercise several times a week at that point. My weight was higher than it should be but it was stable. Apparently they worry about the low number more than the high number, but both are important. My doctor decided to put me on some drugs to get it down. I took this for about a month. My doctor gave me his email address so that I could keep him apprised of my bp on a weekly basis. (In my opinion, all doctors should use email with their patients.) The drug caused me to have a really annoying dry cough that kept me awake at night. This was one of those reactions that made him take me off that drug. It was reducing my bp. Having had the bad reaction to that drug he put me on another one. Both of these were legal from an FAA perspective. I never actually took the new drug, but I started flying my Cub every "flyable" morning before going to work.
There is something magical about a Cub. The slow and easy flying. The open window. The simplicity of the controls. The satisfaction of a good tailwheel landing. I don't really know if it was the getting out to the airport early in the morning and starting up the Cub at a peaceful airport which I had all to myself, or the act of flying the Cub, but my bp went down to normal levels. I don't know if this will work for everyone and I don't know if it will work for other airplanes, but it worked for me. I suspect that if you have something that you love to do and you start your day with it, doing something just for you, it will help.

I would be remiss if I suggested that you fly if you are not healthy or well enough to fly safely. You must always follow the guildlines setout by the FAA and be legal when you fly, which means no illegal illnesses or non approved drugs. That being said, you CAN take along a safety pilot who can perform the duties of pilot in command while you enjoy the gift of flight. I have done this on more than one occasion when the distractions of life had me down or confused.
I took one such flight back in 2000 when the company that I was working for had been bought out by a "DOT COM" company. They were in the process of wrecking our company out of sheer incompetence. I later quit that job and went on to form another company that is thriving today, but that is another story. I went up with a friend in his 150 for about an hour and just had the best of times. It was really head clearing. It is one of those days like my first solo, that I will never forget, and I will always owe my friend for that experience. I could have taken up the Twin Comanche, but that would have been too much for my distracted brain at the time, and my friend would not have been able to act as PIC since he was not rated in the plane.

Good luck with your Cub therapy, whatever form it may take.

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