Can it save your life?

We all get nudges from our Inner Voice. Some say it’s your Conscience – some insist it’s your Guardian Angel – some say instinct. Or psychic events. Whatever you call it, I pay attention whenever I get that scalp-prickling Heads Up. You know… “Don’t get into that elevator with him.” And “Your kid is straight ahead through the crowd“ – and wow, there he is.

Another thing.  If you listen, people will spill their guts when it’s something you really should know. It’s weird.

We were at the annual 7-day EAA Oshkosh, Wisconsin, fly-in event, a gathering of aviators from literally everywhere. It draws the aviation field’s smartest inventors and cleverest entrepreneurs. You rub elbows with fighter pilots, old and new test pilots – and astronauts. Lord Branson of Virgin Air shows up to tout his newest. They all come to strut their stuff. There’s a magnificent line-up of antique warbirds, a splendid separate area for ultralights… It’s vast. Acres of giant hangars are committed to sales booths – av-related products: avionics, aircraft parts, theme clothing… even jewelry and gorgeous paintings.  And yes, grandly tented pavilions of new aircraft for sale… yum.

Some 15,000 aircraft and a cajillion motor homes assemble to offload aviation buffs for seminars, new products, view the latest aviation improvements and static aircraft displays – and watch, of course, fabulous flying shows. Rooms are booked a year in advance or more. Many camp in wing tents in the aircraft parking area.

A couple of years back, we were humming along in a van from Oshkosh to Appleton’s airport, with the pilot of his own Meridian – a guy who was going to give us a demo ride. The oh-so-upscale Piper Meridian is the fancied up version of Piper’s Malibu Mirage. (Remember aviation’s early days and the sweet little Piper Cub? They’ve come a long way, baby.) We were browsing, admiring – not buying.  It’s SOP.  Everybody does it.  We had assured the folks at the Meridian pavilion that we were not in the market for a plane, especially not one that cost over $1,000,000, but they insisted we experience it. Pushy salesmen, but what the heck? Maybe we’d want to trade up from our sweet Cessna 210.

Ok. A free ride in a Meridian – why refuse it? They were hopeful. They were forceful.  They were salesmen.  We were weak.

So along the highway we rode. It was an hour’s trip away, our pilot-to-be got chatty. Apple-cheeked and gray-haired, a comfortable, nice-looking man. He had brought in his Meridian from another state on behalf of this company, to demo. As he prattled on, turning around to talk to me from the front seat, I started paying attention.

Whoa….! What’s this?!  He was telling us how for terrible years he had suffered debilitating convulsions that ruined his life, until finally a chip was implanted in his brain, a nano-width from the focus of his illness, blocking its malfunction.  My scalp crawled. Overwhelmingly, I sensed the Nudge.  Hm.

“So… What does the FAA say about this?” (One must advise FAA of all medical problems and surgeries.)

“FAA? Oh – they don’t know about it.”
Oops. The hair stood up on my neck, like a dog.

I desperately peered at the leaden skies stretching way beyond the horizon – no blue. Appleton would be no clearer than Oshkosh. An escape! We could tactfully duck out of this. I glanced at my husband and said in a voice that carried, “You know, I really would rather go up on a nice day. With this overcast we won’t be able to experience the Meridian the way we’d like.”

The pilot looked at us and said “Oh, we can fly right up over the deck – I’ll file IFR (instrument flight plan to be in clouds). It will be sunny on top.” I pretended to chew this over (no way was I putting my life in his hands) and said – “I’m sorry. That doesn’t do it for me.” The consensus was to turn around, return to home base – and go on a sunny day.

The Inner Voice whispered “Atta girl;” my guardian angel smiled.

Maybe it would have been absolutely ok –  I never later heard of an accident happening to this nice guy.  But I just knew that day I wasn’t supposed to go with him.