Sunday, July 22, 2007

You freeze.

"Have you ever crossed the road, and looked the wrong way? A car's nearly on you? So what do you do? Something very silly. You freeze. Your life doesn't flash before you, 'cause you're too...scared to think - you just freeze and pull a stupid face."

Yesterday I froze. People don't generally like to discuss their failures.

I had always thought of myself as reactionary. Not a crazy activist - someone who can quickly respond to something unexpected. My experience at the EAA fly-in in Oshkosh made me question that belief.

I was on assignment to photograph local folks who sell legally essential tiedowns for the visiting aircrafts. Tiedowns literally tie down an airplane to prevent it from being blown over or blown away by gusts of wind - it sounds absurd but it happens surprisingly frequently.

For about three hours I rode around in the John Deere Gator used by these guys to get from plane to plane in a plane-filled mile-long field along the runway. Cameras around my neck, we took a break to grab some water and watch planes land, some three at a time on a single runway.

A blue and white plane approached erratically, tipping its wings widely from side-to-side as it came closer and closer to the ground. Even at 100-feet in the air, an accident seemed nearly inevitable.

I always thought of myself as the type who would certainly ready his camera to make a picture.

Instead, my jaw-dropped and I froze.

The plane continued to descend. At 20-feet – practically the ground – the plane banked right, nearly clipping its right wing on the asphalt runway, then proceeding to buzz the crowd with little control.

The incident had turned out to be nothing but a pulse-raiser. But maybe it wouldn't have. It makes me wonder in other situations if I would have froze. Perhaps the obsession will wear-off, but today, it bothers me.
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