From the Right Seat
By Pete Rafle ATP CFII
I am writing this just before Halloween. Just thinking about scary stuff that may happen in an airplane.
I don’t believe in ghosts; however strange things can happen unexpectedly. On those night flights where the airways are less busy and the radio traffic is less hectic with long pauses between transmissions, a pilot’s mind can create the unexplainable, hovering, just beyond the propeller arc. What’s that faint knocking noise from the engine? Did that oil pressure needle just wave at me? Sorry, wrong era, did the readout just roll its digits up and down? Flying at night on Halloween can have an influence on some people!
Is that an outline of a figure on a broom topped with a pointed hat? Uh? “Boston center, do you have any traffic in my 10 o’clock, slow moving, parallel to my course? “Nothing on my scope, 42B,”
I better have some coffee from the thermos and review the approach plate and stop this spooky
rambling. Where is my flashlight if the spirits douse the lights? I did a thorough pre-flight, didn’t I? I hate
surprises. I don’t even like Halloween. But, here I am , alone at night flying over darkened countryside,
with no moon, allowing my imagination to distract me from “just flying the airplane”. I’m about to begin my let down, on course, fully awake, and no goblins in my way. After I land, I will see my friends become the goblins and spooky make- believes and tomorrow the sun will shine and all will be right with the world. And…I will not fly on Halloween again.
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PS - Naomi was Pete's guest on episode 4 of the Princeton Flying School Podcast. They had a great conversation on the history of the airport and the flying school.