Flying in a Stearman
The ever-vigilant Kyle had crawled up on the wing to supervise the strapping-in process. I had just gone to some trouble to get into the plane and Kyle started giving me a lesson about how to exit the plane; that is, while it was in flight. Since I had no intention of exiting the plane while it was in the air, I didn't pay as much attention to that instruction as maybe I should have. However, I blame my lack of attention on the Army and the fact that I flew helicopters.
Because jumping out of a helicopter in flight -- whether with or without a parachute -- is fraught with more downsides than upsides, the Army, when preparing its operating budget, didn't bother to include parachutes for helicopter pilots. Consequently, my Army helicopter flying experience had subliminally conditioned me to believe that parachutes were as unnecessary for flying as were wings and propellers.
However, when Kevin cranked the engine and I glanced up and noticed the absence of a rotor, my subliminally conditioned mind suddenly became acutely aware that, at least for this aircraft, wings and a propeller were indeed necessities. And that caused me to rethink the importance of a parachute. Maybe I should have paid more attention to Kyle's parachute lesson. Quickly reviewing, I tried to remember the procedure for jumping out of an airplane with a parachute. Let's see; what's the first step? Pull the ring? No, wait; before that, I have to jump out. Then, let's see; what comes before that? Oh, yeah; unbuckle the harness. What else? Oh yeah; I'm supposed to remove my helmet, the one with the built-in, voice-activated microphone. I suppose that step is a courtesy for those folks who may be tuned in to the flight, persons who have no direct influence on the outcome of my jumping out of an airplane and therefore needn't be bothered by the screams.
I was thinking that perhaps I should call Kyle back over for a remedial lesson on the parachute, but it was too late; on the headset, I heard Kevin calling for permission to taxi.
page 8 of 12 pages