Oh no! Not THAT Question!
During the second round of interviews for my current job I was asked by the head of the accounting department why I was interested in working for the airport. I explained that I love airplanes and am interested in becoming involved in the aviation industry. He studied me quietly for a moment then asked, “Why do you love airplanes?” Doh! I HATE that question! My standard reply of “because they’re awesome” never seems sufficient. The fact is, if you have to ask then I’m pretty sure you aren’t going to understand.
How did it Begin?
It is hard to pinpoint exactly how my love of airplanes began. I’ve just always loved them. Any time I ever got to drive by an airport it was the highlight of my day. If a plane happened to take off or land as I was passing by I considered it to be a good omen. I was in heaven the day I discovered live ATC and flight tracking apps. But if you INSIST I pinpoint a starting point for my avgeekiness, I suppose there were two things that influenced me.
Let’s Blame my Brother
Without going into too much detail, let’s just say my family situation growing up was a bit odd. When I was in 6th grade my father got angry about something or other and for punishment he got rid of the TV. And by got “got rid of” I mean he threw it away. We didn’t have a TV in the house for the next ten years. (Except for a small contraband TV that my brother kept hidden in his toy box, but that’s a story for another time.) For entertainment I ended up reading a lot of books. And I do mean A LOT.
One day when I was in 7th or 8th grade I grew bored with my own books, so I decided to raid by brother’s bookshelf. On a whim I picked up a book on the battle of Midway. The next thing I knew I was devouring every word. I found myself fascinated by the aircraft carriers. They can launch airplanes from ships? AND land them? Get out!!! How freaking cool is that??? I became hooked on air combat stories and began reading other books about military aviation.
The Unknown Pilot
The second major event involved the skies over eastern Pennsylvania. The family homestead is located out in farm country and when I wasn’t reading books, I liked to spend time wandering through the surrounding fields. I knew pretty much every bridle path and hiking trail around my home. The area was (and still is) a busy corridor for airplanes. There is commercial traffic heading to and from PHL, military flights heading to Dover AFB and GA airplanes flying to the county airport.
One day while I was hiking across a neighboring farm I heard a small plane flying around and around overhead. Most flights are passing through, and at much higher altitudes, so the fact that this plane was staying in the area caught my attention. I looked up and saw a small plane flying in circles and doing loops. At first I thought, “What the heck is that pilot doing?” But then I thought, “I have no idea what is going on, but it looks damn cool!” It was like my own private air show! I have no clue who the pilot was, but he or she showed up periodically over the next couple of years and I always made a point to watch.
The Truth Is
Explaining how it began still doesn’t really tell you WHY I love planes. I think it has to do with the magic of flight itself. That large jet airplane that seems so awkward and lumbering on the ground somehow manage to lift into the air, where it becomes a graceful, amazing thing of beauty. Every time I see an airplane take off or land it brings back the same child-like sense of wonder I had the first time I saw it. And it never gets old. Ever! Plus I love things are loud and go fast, so of course the sound of a jet engine spooling up never fails to make me smile.
So to Answer the Question
I really don’t remember how I responded when the head of accounting asked why I love planes. I might have pointed out that they are a marvel of engineering. I could have mentioned the important role they have played in our military and commercial endeavors. I might have discussed the forces of gravity and the dynamics of flight. In the end, however, what I probably said was, “because they are awesome!”