Sunday Scribblings - Fearless - 4/13/08

The prompt "fearless" immediately brought two names to my weary mind, neither of which were Myrtle Beached Whale. I am the polar opposite of fearless. I am afraid of spiders, snakes, clowns, mimes, heights, women with tattoos, badgers, poop, any word ending in noma, dentists, meteorites, herpes, and shopping.

The first person that personifies fearless to me is General Chuck Yeager. In World War II, by the age of 22, he had shot down 11 German aircraft and had been shot down himself over France. He evaded capture, found his way back to England and flew more combat missions.

He actually had to bail out of an aircraft on two separate occasions.

That would be quite enough flying for most pilots. Not for Chuck, though. He became a test pilot after the war.

What a test pilot essentially does is attempt to fly an aircraft that no one really knows for sure will actually fly. Theoretically, it is supposed to fly. So was the Spruce Goose.

He was the first man to break the sound barrier. He was a test pilot for 13 years, during which he flew 330 different aircraft and flew faster and higher than any pilot had ever flown. He then flew combat missions in Viet Nam. He retired from the Air Force in 1975, after 34 years. Now for the amazing part: In 2007, at the age of 84, when most people are driving 45 on the Interstate, indicating an intention to turn left for 30 miles, and eating dinner at 4 PM, General Yeager piloted an Air Force F-16 through the sound barrier. This was to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first time he did it.

This is a truly fearless man. I had the pleasure of meeting him some years ago.

The other person that immediately came to mind was the late Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. Here is Steve Irwin in a nutshell: (Imagine an Australian accent. I am doing one now in my head): “Look at this beauty. This is the most deadly poisonous snake in the world. I am going to tease him until he is forced to bite me in the face.

Then I am going to ride this 15-foot croc down the river so I can better observe his death roll.“

Since his untimely death there have been several poor imitations of him, but there will only ever be one Crocodile Hunter.

He honestly did love those deadly reptiles. With all the amazing adventures he had, it is ironic that he would be killed by one of the most docile creatures in the sea.

Many who read this will call both of these individuals not fearless, but crazy. I agree. I don’t think any rational person can be totally fearless. Oh yeah, almost forgot. I am also afraid of bees and fire ants.