Oh Shizzle! I *AM* Don Quixote!

If you have not read Don Quixote, I get it. Forget the windmills and the countless other La Mancha cliches we’ve grown up with. Edith Grossman’s recent translation makes it pretty easy to digest. I am in the middle of my second reading in two years. It just strikes a cord like nothing else. But I am halfway through and have decided to take a break to read something “lighter”. The great thing about Don Quixote is that you can walk away at any point and come back weeks later to reconnect without much difficulty.

The “lighter fare” is “Gunship Pilot”, $2.99 at the Amazon Kindle store! I bought it because it’s cheap, not for the reviews (which are mostly good actually). The book might well be garbage. But good or bad I will read just about any first-hand accounts from the helicopter war in Vietnam and find something to keep my attention. I was contemplating this new realization about myself and made a somewhat sad connection.

Don Quixote lived most of his life as a respected landed gentleman named “Alonso”. He became ever more obsessed with stories from the age a chivalry—ancient even then. His library was filled with books of knighthood. What once started as an amusing past-time drove him mad. Or not. One could make the argument that he trolled all of Spain as he sallied about picking fights, getting his butt kicked and compelling complete strangers to tell their stories, some the most beautiful ever told. The novel changed history. It inspired a lost work by Shakespeare. It even added a word to English (and probably many other languages) which describes a delusional, hopelessly optimistic pursuit (quixotic). He sets off on his adventures after constructing a ridiculous suit of armor from paper-mache and old parts and enlisting as his squire a peasant, Sancho Panza, the most interesting character I have ever come to know in literature.

I have lived most of my life as Eric, a middle class husband and father. But I have a fantasy self I call “Smokin’ Hole”. As “Smokin’” I am a pilot-errant. As “Smokin’” I pick fights I rarely win. This alter-ego is one I take so seriously that it has begun to mold how I live my life. I have learned to fly a helicopter. That itself is a quixotic pursuit unless one plans to make a living pulling for power. Flying them privately is expensive and unexplainable. When I mention helicopters to my fellow pilots I am met with confusion and eye-rolls, even from those who flew helicopters formerly! I have committed to building (or at least attempting to build) my own helicopter, an A600 turbo. Go on Reddit and you will find plenty of scorn for it, almost resorting to accusing the latest of the Rotorway lineage of being assembled from paper-mache and old parts!

Mudspike is my Sancho. It both encourages me to see this fantasy world as just another reality while also raising the BS flag when I seem to have taken it too far (see my Machmell short story—or don’t). There is a Don Quixote in all of us. I hope you all have found yours. If you have, please consider sharing it here.


I did 7 years as a union rep…
I have tilted against my share of windmills!

But on a more philosophical note, I totally feel like I’m born in the wrong century, sometimes.

Wait a minute…
When did you decide on this?


Great read. I’ve been Tommy McGuire, Galland, and a few other of my heroes. I totally get you.
@smokinghole … Dad and husband by day, king of the Choppa by night.


I did three! I was the Guam FO rep. Fun job really. I’d love to do it again.

Just after Oshkosh. I figured my constant harping and indecisiveness about it on the forum had outlasted its charm. Now every morning I wake up and think, “What on Earth have I done!”

So this is normal then. Cervantes touched on a universal desire to be something other than oneself, at least from time to time.


I would go a little further and postulate that a lot of us feel like we were born in the wrong time because the current time (and future) is much harder to understand and deal with than the slice of history that we look back on and long to be part of. I can read almost as much as I want and see the past through todays eyes, but I can’t do the same for the present and future.


Yeah, me too… Today, that is. Right after I left….not so much. :wink:

Pleeease make a post about the build, as a log. I’m only asking for daily updates! :wink:
I’m envious now…


We need to get a Livestream camera. You can build and occasionally stop and do a song and dance routine to make people smash that LIKE button… :rofl: Plus we can get a live chat going as well where old guys tell you how you are doing it wrong…

Dog I Have No Idea What Im Doing GIF


Hmm…now you have me wanting to read Don Quixote. I wonder if there is a well narrated audiobook version. I have a 7 hour car ride coming up today…

I’m just wrapping up a hilarious reading of Catch 22. Absolutely adore Heller’s writing style.


I am envious of your skillset. I have worked on the Pitts a bunch. So mechanically I am no dunce. But I still feel totally unprepared. I have watched all 10 hours of the builder assist videos twice. This will take years. But the money has been wired and I am committed. The first phase of the kit is due to arrive late Fall.


What’s the word kids say today? “Meta”? Part of what makes Don Quixote so funny is that it is meta in layers. The story, we are told, comes down to us from a Moorish historian. Cervantes claims to only be recounting this story after having had it translated from Arabic. He finished volume 1 in 1605. It took the world by storm, at least to the limits of what was possible back then. It was translated into English in time for Shakespeare to have found inspiration from it. Before Cervantes finished the 2nd volume in 1615, another writer had written a fake volume 2 and that volume became somewhat popular. Cervantes was a bad-ass. He could well have just tracked down and beat the snot out of the faker. But no. Instead he incorporates the existence of the fake into the new volume. In volume two Don Quixote and Sancho resume their adventures unaware that much of Spain has read of what they have been up to. But Spain has been informed through fake news spewing half-truths and total fabrications. Meanwhile Quixote thinks his growing fame his been earned through his prowess as a great knight. I won’t say more about that because it would risk spoiling the story. But Cervantes incorporates both himself and the fake writer into the novel. The beauty and permanence of his getting the last laugh in such an ingenious way would not be possible today. We are all too informed. The internet is too instantaneous.

I want it read by Sir Patrick Stewart!


Speaking of helicopter books… this one is really awesome.


Yes! Also we need a 24/7 livestream of the hangar with the project helicopter, a bit like those Alaskan wilderness bear cams showing mostly nothing and then a bear comes for a fish.

Most of the time you’re just staring at a half-built helo with nothing going on but then suddenly @smokinhole comes and puts in a rivet, ponders around a bit and leaves…it’ll be strangely captivating, just like the bear cams!


The Secret Life of Walter Mittey is how I always related that part of my myself. Done Quixote works well too though.

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Another well known pilot learning to fly rotorcraft.


Looked like he knew what he was doing.

They just dont know what they are talking about :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Last few years I am trying to be just my self not someone else. As I became heli pilot its actully not that hard for me :sunglasses:

The thing is that there is always some distraction from the past / present / future.

And I need to confess that almost every Friday, for few hours, I am WWII fighter pilot :slight_smile:

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