The Good Pilot
The good pilot knows his plane
What it can do, what it can’t
Others might know takeoff power, rate of climb, service ceiling
He knows how to restart an engine that’s freezing
He knows how to crab in a cross wind
Knows how to land it dead stick
The good pilot knows his way 'round the sky
When to fly under clouds, when to turn back
Others might know albedo, isotherm or wind shear
The clouds he can read, he knows weather by feel
He knows how to navigate storms when they darken
Knows how to fly those dark valleys of heaven
The good pilot knows his route
To the home field today
No need for a chart, no flight plan is filed
He vectors on final, he pilots by heart
The instruction is done, no more touch and go’s
All his flight hours logged, at last returns to his love
At the home field she waits, sees the wheels kiss the ground
Takes in his last taxi and turn, her vigil ends at the gate
Patient during the post flight, magnetos check, engine off
She knows her man, was willing to wait
She opens the door as he flies through
Again they are one, no longer two
The good pilot is home
July 2014 Written in the air, somewhere over America
In memory of my dad, Joe Bohrer, Jr., the good pilot, and my mom, Ann, his love.
My mom passed away on July 23, 2006, and my dad on July 2, 2014. On the flight returning from my dad's funeral, with my son Nick sitting next to me on the plane, I sat there wanting to write a poem for my Dad.
I was on the flight leg from Detroit to Seattle, I sat on the plane and knew I had to write a poem for my Dad. I just started putting words down on paper. That’s what they say – if you want to write something, start writing. The first two tries didn't go anywhere, but then the third try brought me the phrase “The Good Pilot”, and the main idea and structure came with it whole, just like that. I never know how this happens, but somehow it does.
As I wrote it, it turned into something more – a love note to both my dad and my mom. I didn’t know it would take that turn, but poems have a mind of their own.
While I was growing up, Dad took us kids flying all the time. Thinking back to those flights, I can still visualize what Erie PA and the area around it looked like from the air. We heard about flying so much from him – it wasn’t possible to have a conversation with him about any topic that didn’t end up being redirected to be about flying! I was able to use some of the flying terms I heard all the time, and work them into the poem. For anyone who never met my dad, "Good Pilot" has a dual meaning – "good" applies to both pilot and man.
I wanted to read a poem at my father's funeral. I didn’t have the right words that day. But that's what motivated me to write "The Good Pilot". Peace.
poem copyright 2014