The Inner Art of Airmanship

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The Inner Art of Airmanship is dedicated to you, daring aerial adventurers. It's for whoever has embarked with cunning sails upon frightful seas.

All pages copyright © 2002-2018 by me, Dave English. All rights reserved.

This website is not a come-on for seminars or coaching or flight instruction or personal appearances. I have no interest. Flying an Airbus for an airline pays my bills at the gliderport. This is for love. No subscriptions, no member-only pages, no pop-ups, no pop-unders, no ads, no cookies, no tracking, no recording, no tricks or games. I designed and wrote it all myself using FrontPage (then, now use Dreamweaver), Photoshop, a variety of free and paid stock image collections, press packs, Wikipedia images, US government photos, a little digital camera (now iPhone) and some dumb luck.

Many thanks are owed to the late W. Earl Allen for making earlier versions of the text more readable with his considerable proofreading skills. His own passion for flight was clearly seen in the aeronautical excellence of his students, and when flying aerobatics. Of course, all language errors here remain my own as I continue to add and tweak.

A point of confusion can be Japanese names, as the family name is written first. I would be English Dave. Then titles or Zen names are added or can replace given names. For example, Tzu can be translated as master. I use Japanese convention for Japanese names and the most common Zen names for masters, with Western convention for Western names.

Due to liability concerns the Wisconsin flight school owner asked me to not use the airport’s actual name. I agreed. Some other identifying details have also been changed for the same reason.

Most all the images used to make the graphics are from several stock photo libaries, but others are fair use from the US government, ancient scrolls, or photos I’ve taken. This quick little drawing is by Richard Bach, something he hand drew with his signature on the inside page of my copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull:

The enso (circle) is one of the deepest symbols in Japanese Zen. This one was drawn by Bankei Keitaku (1622-1693), who entered a Zen temple at 17, traveled widely throughout Japan, and later taught his Fusho Zen:

The simple circle seems so easy to draw, just as straight and level flight seems so easy to fly. But the book Zen Drawing says:

In fact it is one of the most difficult of Zenga; it is not a product of chance, but expresses fully the enlightenment and profundity achieved by the artist. No deception is possible in painting an enso, for the character of the painter is fully exposed in its nakedness. The enso is the revelation of a world of the spirit without beginning and end, and can be said to transcend anything that qualifies as art in the ordinary meaning. (Awakawa, 1970)

A perfect circle would be drawn by a compass, or generated by a computer. Just as an autopilot holds course and altitude better than any human pilot. But there is much more to flying, so I have a circle drawn by human hand and seen by this human eye to be closer to perfection.

Shin Un'zan (True Mountain Covered with Cloud), by Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1768):

The author (that’s me, still Dave) has made every effort in the preparation of this web site to ensure accuracy of the information. However, the information is provided without warranty, either expressed or implied. The author (yep, Dave) will not be liable for any damages caused or alleged to be caused directly, indirectly, incidentally or consequentially by the information on this web site. It's all for entertainment purposes only. While every effort is made to ensure timeliness and accuracy, the information presented within is subject to revision and in no way relieves the pilot-in-command of his/her duties as outlined in government aviation regulations and general good airmanship. Like duh!

In the case of conflict between this site and your airplane manuals, your company procedures, government rules and recommendations, or any other authoritive documentation, comply with the documented procedures. is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites. Opinions expressed are considered to be those of the speaker. Quotations are as accurate as possible, but not more so. Contributions welcome, but editorial rights reserved. This site has been registered with ISCA for safe surfing.

The old FAA’s Flight Standards Service official web site had this disclaimer:

The content of these pages is unofficial and not authority for action. Views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Transportation or the Federal Aviation Administration.

Following the FAA’s brave lead I think I can hearby proclaim that pages are unofficial and not authority for action, and that my views and opinions expressed here may not reflect my views and expressions! If you want definitive guidance on flight operations I can only suggest you have your legal team contact the FAA's chief counsel. Yeah.

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Sam told me once the worst attitude in an airplane also has a Japanese phrase: shikata ga nai nxhubn — it can't be helped. Going with the flow should never be confused with shikata ga nai.

If you have questions or comments please contact me using my clever web form.

What follows is based on actual occurrences. Although much has been changed for rhetorical purposes, it must be regarded in its essence as fact. However, it should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It's not very factual on motorcycles, either.

Robert M. Pirsig
Author's Note, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

More wisdom is latent in things-as-they-are than in all the words men use.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A flute with no holes, is not a flute,
And a doughnut with no hole, is a Danish.

According to a very loose translation by Ty Webb, Caddyshack.

The hero of my tale — whom I love with all the power of my soul, whom I have tried to portray in all his beauty, who has been, is, and will be beautiful — is Truth.

Leo Tolstoy
Sevastopol in May 1855.

“You are quoting Snoopy the Dog, I believe?”
“I’ll quote the truth whereever I find it, thank you.”

Richard Bach
Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah