Rolling the aircraft into the left turn, I marveled that with barely more effort than turning my car’s steering wheel, I smoothly maneuvered half a million pounds of steel and aluminum gracefully through the air. I did so with reflexes honed over thirty-three years of flight for thousands of landings in half a dozen various aircraft.
My country had trained me well to serve its needs, but now those robust reflexes would become obsolete as soon as the wheels touched down on the runway…
My family members awaited me in the parking spot to hose me down with a fire extinguisher, the ritual for the final flight.
Rituals. I recalled getting soaked as my pilot training compatriots tossed me into the water trough after my first solo in 1970.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, or, in this case, water to water. A marvelous flying life it had been, but now it was over.