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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Ultimate Dream Machine


Flying has always been a metaphor for me. In Umbrella and Chevy, I told of my childhood passion reaching the point where I resorted to jumping off my family's Chevy with an umbrella, hoping for an uplifting experience, but only getting a slower descent. Later in life I did take a few flying lessons, but helicopters remained the impossible dream.

The helicopter is the ultimate vehicle of transport - they are the most versatile vehicles in existence, giving complete access to three-dimensional space. They can fly virtually anywhere and can hover. However, there is a price to pay. These machines are very complex, difficult to fly, noisy and require constant maintenance. It is possible for these aircraft to even vibrate themselves apart. In short, they are man's triumph of brute force over nature. And expensive for all concerned.

I was only in a helicopter once in Hawaii for a brief flight into the Kalalau Valley on the Island of Kauai. This was the ultimate adventure for the tropics lover - a pristine area of an extraordinary island in the Pacific accessed by man's ultimate vehicle. The trip was short and expensive, but exhilarating. The cliffs of the Na Pali coast on the north shore of Kauai are one of the world's most beautiful natural spectacles. The only surprise and disappointment was the incredible noise. Hearing protective headsets were given to us at the beginning of the flight.

So what better method of exodus and entrance to the crowded New York City metropolis than by helicopter, the only vehicle that can go from any point outside the city to the heart of Manhattan itself without suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous traffic? I once heard Bill Gates speak in Manhattan. As we waited his arrival, we were informed he was being delivered via helicopter. Other major VIPs such as Donald Trump and the mayor are well known for their use of helicopters, the ultimate transportation luxury. When the Concorde was flying into New York City, the flight included transport to and from the airport via helicopter.

I journeyed to the VIP Heliport with a friend who is the only person I know who has traveled into the city by helicopter. I made a special trip specifically to 30th Street and the Hudson River for this story. Apart from the greenway along the Hudson River, it is rare that anyone would be this far west in this part of the city.

At times, in spite of my love for this city, I do get island fever and the island of Manhattan feels like a prison of sorts. At those times, in spite of noise, vibration and danger of being in a complex contraption built by men using brute force over nature, I still fantasize about being picked up on the roof of my building and swept away in the ultimate dream machine :)

2 comments:

Steffe said...

I still remember the envy I felt when my grandfather got to fly over Haninge in a helicopter (he was a part-time politician),when I was a little kid. I asked him if I could come with them, but there wasn't any more room in the machine.

Brian Dubé said...

Steffe,
Too bad. The opportunities just become fewer and the costs higher. One day I want to do an aerial thing over the city and do some photos.