Things shift during flight

P. Scott Lebert: An appreciation

 

I met Scott when he and my sister were first dating. The first thing I learned about Scott is that he loved to fly and he wanted to be a pilot for a major airline. He had a day job in project management, but the airport was his second home. It was a long road to becoming captain; there were lots of charters and flying cargo planes. But I never doubted his resolve. Scott was a well-trained pilot and most recently he used that training as a check airman, ensuring the readiness of other pilots.

On his Facebook page, Scott’s message is to help others realize their dreams of flying. Scott made his dream come true and he was working to help others realize their dreams.

Last year Scott spent a lot of time helping me buy a new modem and router for my home network. If you have seen their setup, you know it looks a bit like it’s ready for takeoff. He never hesitated to help and he was unfailingly generous. He always, always picked up the tab. He also taught us to bring chocolates for the flight crew whenever we fly, a simple act of kindness and appreciation that will connect us to Scott every time that we fly.

Scott loved his family. It’s sometimes hard to see in the day to day how much someone loves you, but when my husband Robert and I spent time with Scott he talked about flying and family. He loved Stacey and Paul, his parents Flo and Paul, his extended family and of course, Theresa. He cared about his friends and coworkers. He worried about you and he wanted you all to be well and happy. He loved you all so very much.

We are all connected. John Donne said, “No man is an island, entire of itself: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” Sometimes we forget that until a link of the chain is lost and we move closer together again and reconnect the chain. We hold tight to the loves we have and those we have lost.

So, hold each other close.  Don’t wait to say I love you. Don’t postpone joy. Dream big and fly high. It’s always good to observe the fasten seat belt sign and open the overhead bins carefully. Everything shifts during flight, sometimes even our belief in what is possible.

John Gillespie Magee, a WWII pilot wrote the sonnet High Flight to describe the unbelievable freedom and beauty of flight.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Scott, we have told endless stories about you. We marveled at the head of hair that you used to have, we talked about the little things that made you, you—and made you special to us. You will be missed.

Southwest's Maryland plane [Photo by Robert Haight]

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