Francis Meyrick

Storm and Fire – Passion & Judgment

Posted on December 26, 2008



I’m in a steep dive.
In a small, two seat, aerobatic aircraft. An Eagle. Agile, fast.
The airspeed is increasing. The controls are going super sensitive.
The propeller tips are going supersonic.
Now they are screaming. Above the bellow of the engine, I can hear them.
140…150…160 knots….
The altimeter is unwinding. The two hands are racing backwards around the clock. I have the stick hard forward.
The green fields are coming up. This is insanity.
170…180…185 knots…
The throttle is hard forward. My left hand is still pushing, but the throttle can go no further. She is giving me everything she’s got. Two hundred horses. Their manes flying in the wind, foaming at the mouth, bridle in their teeth, Their eyes are borderline demented, frenzied. Riders of the storm.
Faster. I want to go faster. Steeper.
And still the altimeter unwinds…

The heavy motorcycle weaves through the Interstate traffic effortlessly.
A black leather figure with a white helmet.
Both cylinders are working to capacity. The throttle is rolled hard open. It can go no further.
He wished it would. All thirteen hundred cc’s of cylinder space are doing their level best. Converting fuel and air into fire.
115…120…miles per hour…
Faster. I want to go faster.
And still the speedometer climbs…

The waves are being tortured.
Foam and spray, white and helpless, is being blown back. Grotesque scars tear down the back of the rollers.
The wind is dominant. And I, puny mortal, have three men putting their trust in me.
Ahead, the offshore platform deck seems awfully small, and surrounded by an unforgiving storm lashed sea.
40 knots of wind…
The intercom is quiet. They are not happy. But they know me, and they trust me. I am honored by their trust. And that of their families. But I… am happy. I am in my element.
I ease back on the cyclic, simultaneously lowering some collective pitch. The helicopter pitches up slightly, and slows down a fraction. Our descent rate is increasing. We have half a mile and five hundred feet to go…

If you spread out your arms and legs, you slow down.
That enables other jumpers to catch up with you. You form a ring in the sky. It’s nuts.
You are all together. Linked up. Everybody grins. This is so cool.
Let’s ignore- for a little while- that this ride is terminal.
120 miles per hour…
We split up. I do a turning back flip, and adopt the Delta position.
130….140… miles per hour.
I can feel my jump suit rattling in the wind storm. I love it.

“No “, she said. “I’m tired of you. “
I, brokenhearted, asked why.
“You are Extreme Man “, she said.
“You don’t do anything by halves. You live, think, dream, and drive like the wind. And you make love like a whirlwind.
I can’t keep up with you. And that Celtic gloom… I have never known a man who can be so happy, and so sad at the same time. You drive me crazy. I want somebody ordinary… “
And I, a twenty three year old wrinkled veteran of Life, what was I to say?

I am hunched down. He can barely hear me.
Around me, the flies and smell of the Angolan refugee camp.
His small, emaciated six year old body is wracked by coughing spasms. Pathetically malnutritioned, his ribs sticking out like little sticks covered by a thin, yellowy skin, his eyes, stunningly insightful, stare at me from his death bed.
“Don’t die, Sumbo “, I beg him, simply.
His eyes ask me why I even care. There are millions like him. Many millions more are long gone.
I know why I care. I don’t know if he will believe me. He has seen his father die. He has seen his mother die.
Why should he believe I care?

“Put the gun down! Do it NOW! “
I heard the angry voices, clearly carrying on the night air. Sliding along the side of the house, a round in the chamber, I moved through the half shadows carefully. Warily, I raised my head up so I could peep over the stained wooden window sill. I noticed how it badly needed some paint. Steadily I brought up my weapon. Until it was aimed squarely at the right side of his unseeing head. Once I had acquired the target, I felt a savage, cold satisfaction. My finger moved to the trigger.

The long knife that exploded at me in a vicious arc glinted dully in the artificial lights of the ship’s engine room.
I stepped back just in time. My brain, reeling, knew instantly that death had missed me by inches. Again.
My fist, taking on a life of its own, propelled by a most primitive instinct, impacted as hard as I could possibly manage, on the side of his head. He grunted, and stalled for a second…

“Do you understand the triangle of the Three Great Loves? “, he asked me, gently.
I looked blank. He smiled. I liked him. It was five in the morning. We had -once again- been discussing God and the Universe. All night long.
“At the top of the triangle “, he continued, “is the Love of God. You have that Love. In great abundance… “
I protested. “But I don’t even know if there IS a God. “
He smiled, and waved away my protestations. Continuing, he said:
“at the one corner at the bottom, is the Love of Man. You have that Love. “
I said nothing.
“But at the other corner. What do you think we have there? “
I looked even more blank. I had no clue.

“I swear by Almighty God to tell the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth… “
I listened to them all, swearing the oath on the Bible. All except the Atheist, he refused the Bible. Instead, he made an affirmation I think they called it. I knew they were going to lie. Through their teeth.They always did.
As for me? I told the Truth. I lost the case of course.



The Never-exceed-speed is two hundred and ten miles per hour.
At that speed, the flying wires of your little biplane are quivering like the strings on a guitar. You’re coming down like a German Stuka dive bomber. Howling. But you’ve got a lot of energy.
The ground of course is just spreading out in all directions.
Ground rush. Spectacular,but Deadly. Trick is to wait. Wait…. wait….
Then: Hard back on the stick!
As soon as you hit the vertical, a hard over on the ailerons. Now you are performing a climbing roll. You can literally place the trailing edge of your wing on the horizon, and roll it 360 degrees around. And all the while, you have all this energy to play with. All that energy, so valuable, which gives you tremendous vertical penetration. You can truly rocket up into the Wild Blue. The airshow crowd love it. Especially with a smoke generator….



You dive headlong into it,
seemingly suicidal,
but actually with great skill,
and a certain subtle cunning,
a mischievous delight
to then
rise high above it all,
and soar to greater creative heights than ever before.
Life is for living. Life is Risk. Living has a 100% fatality rate. It’s not about wealth.
Or retirement savings.
Or career.
Or esteem from your peers.

It’s about “fight “. Getting your ticket’s worth. Ride that bus. Think. Challenge. Dream…

And love it…


Last edited by Francis Meyrick on July 18, 2014, 5:40 pm

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