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As terrestrial creatures, it is unnatural to spend more than a few moments separated from our planet.  I suppose that is why so many people find flying so interesting.  Like riding in a submarine a thousand feet below the surface of the ocean, we’re really not supposed to be here.  I mean, down there.  Er, up there.

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The Pacific is a big ocean. (I know, Duh.) When I cross it, I fly for hours at 500 MPH and see nothing. And I mean: nothing.  If you think I mean nothing except for ships, you would be wrong. I am constantly looking for ships and such and on the rare occasion that I do spot one, invariably, my response is something like: Look there’s a ship! What’s it doing way out here?

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It was just a normal rotation (the term we use for a series of scheduled flights) from Los Angeles to the Far East and back. I would be away from home for 11 days. Very routine in every respect. Except that once we were underway, it became difficult to ignore significant moments.  

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My father was an airline pilot who flew bombers in World War II. All of his friends were pilots. Everyone I knew wanted to be a pilot or at least thought it was a really, really cool job. Naturally, I wanted to be a pilot, too. Like my dad. Or like James Garner in the movie Cash McCall, flying Natalie Wood to dinner in my own Douglas A-26 Invader. Yeah.   

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A working pilot only flies when he is told and then only to the airport that his company designates. For much of my career, I seemed to only fly into and out of the world’s busiest airport hub. In all kinds of bad weather. And, seemingly, only on holidays, family birthdays and wedding anniversaries.   

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