A journey of discovery into the sky

The sky has always aroused our curiosity more than any other part of the universe in which we live. Not merely for its visible aspect, but even more for its invisible yet imagined richness.

This is also why the sky occupies a critical place in the teachings of all almost the world's religious faiths. This profound curiosity and mystery have prompted people to go to incredible lengths to discover the deep, dark secrets of the sky, and exploring outer space has become a driving human passion. But the purpose of course is not simply to discover but, above all, to understand and, even more, to  dominate the sky and benefit from it.

Man's relationship with the sky has of course not always been simply so cold, mechanical and one-sided. The passion for discovery did indeed pave the way to the sky becoming an area of basic research and a special branch of science, but in its mysterious and impenetrable aspect the sky has also served as a refuge for man. Distressed by the monotonous, at times even ruthless mechanized nature of the earth, the sky has also been a loving heart and maternal bosom to which man has surrendered himself. At the same time the sky is a mysterious realm that arouses the deepest romantic feelings, occasionally even melancholy.

“How lovely the glory of the starry skies! / How lovely to converse with the Beloved in the moonlight!” Such are the lyrics to one of the most beautiful Turkish songs ever composed. Who knows how many passionate loves, how many romantic quests, how many ardent feelings of hope and longing it has given expression to?

But let us not forget the other function we have assigned to the sky. That of being a canopy over the part of the universe that lies within the bounds of our imagination. Such an all-embracing canopy is the sky that sometimes you console yourself by imagining that the person you love lives with you under the same roof. Occasionally too the sense of revulsion engendered living under the same roof with certain others can be distressing. The sky is the object we see when we look up with wonderment and try to imagine what opportunities it holds for us humans. Thanks to one of the greatest inventions of the modern world, that mysterious canopy, that vivid roof, has now been turned into a place within easy reach of everyone.
You know of course what invention I'm talking about. I'm referring to that extraordinary mode of transportation that brings man closer to the sky, the airplane!

Every airplane trip I make gives me the feeling that I've embarked on a journey of discovery, and at the same time a sense of understanding and perhaps of taking refuge. Did I experience a similar emotion on my first airplane trip? I doubt it. The first flight I made at the beginning of 1976 a few months after I graduated from university commenced with an even greater sense of excitement. On that first journey, a rather late start for getting to know a new mode of transportation and experiencing new excitement since I was already twenty-three years old, my initial excitement was suddenly transformed into intense fear and anxiety when the plane took a nose dive and was violently shaken by turbulence. That fear, which I have never again encountered in the hundreds of times I have flown during the thirty years since that day, made my first acquaintance with the airplane an unforgettable experience.