“Perhaps the best part of soaring is the always changing, always beautiful skyscape. Though I live in an unremarkable region of coastal plains and piedmont, the sky offers daily wonders.
Keen observers of the air, glider pilots often see things others miss. The annual migration of raptors south. The gossamers of migrating spiders glinting on our wings. A monarch butterfly 4,000 feet above the ground, fluttering its way to Central America. A tumultuous roll cloud, marking the turbulence beneath the glassy smooth but powerful lift of mountain wave, and the lens shaped clouds stacked above it. The grey tendrils that sometimes form below a cumulus cloud, marking especially strong eddies of lift. The concave bottoms of cumulus clouds that mark the very strongest of thermals. The extraordinary sensation of flying into a column of smoke rising from a field fire—opaque from the outside, but transparent once inside.“
-Christopher C. O’Callaghan
The above was written by my brother for an article in a soaring magazine a few years ago. What it shows me is his ability to see more than what is right in front of you. His fascination with the world beyond his and his hunger to know more than the fact that the butterflies are up there, he wanted to know why and where they were going.
The message to me is that he really lived. He didn’t just dream, he explored. If he wanted to do something, he did it.
Three years ago today, he died doing one of the many things he had explored for the last 30 years. He died in a collision during a soaring competition.
We were all devastated. We still miss him desperately. But…we also know that life is unpredictable and if there is anything positive we can extract from this tragedy, it’s that we know he lived. And, we know he died doing something that he loved.