Numerology is a belief in the mystical relationship between numbers and one or more coinciding event. That’s mostly bunk, but Divine Providence, well, that’s another matter entirely.
The Guiding Hand employs numbers as a way of getting us wherever we’re supposed to be in life. Our birthdays determine whether we experienced war, famine, flu epidemics, or were chased down and eaten by dinosaurs. Unfortunately for me, I hit the math barrier in the second grade, and that was that.
My parents, in their mistaken belief that I’d thank them someday, heroically drilled me on multiplication tables to little effect in the family dining room. That’s the same room where I upchucked my Thanksgiving turkey dinner and cherry pie, ending up in the hospital with acute appendicitis. I got over the cherry pie aversion, but I never ate turkey again, nor overcome my distaste for math, so I’m scarred for life in more ways than one.
Math mostly let me alone until my college sophomore year. Yes, there was a college that accepted me. Anyway, I was sailing along nicely, acting as my own faculty advisor and advising myself to avoid all math courses. No, I’ve never had algebra or trig.
Yes, all was well until somebody pulled my birthday out of a fishbowl assigning me a draft number of 121, which was a guaranteed all-expense paid trip to Vietnam. Orwell said: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” Boy did he have my number.
Many of my friends were in R.O.T.C., and for reasons I can’t remember, I was not. It must have been they who turned me into the R.O.T.C. department because a couple of weeks later, I was invited to join the Rho Omega Tau Chi (ROTC) fraternity.
I took the oath, and in a twist of fate,121 became my lucky number and changed my entire future (if I was going to have a future). One day the assistant professor of military science cornered me and told me to take the aviation aptitude test. I laughed and told him if there was any math involved, it wouldn’t fly (pun). He said, I don’t care, you’re taking it anyway.
To my surprise and probably his, I passed, and the government paid for my private pilot license at the local airport. I went on to fly in the military for nearly thirty years, but not before one more big math scare. The ROTC unit brought in an aircraft for us to look at, and I noticed several complex math equations written in grease pencil on the windscreen.
So that was it, instant fail. If it required that much math to fly the thing, then I was headed for point-man on a grunt patrol in a Vietnamese jungle. Somehow, though, I made it through flight school, and I’ve laughed ever since, because, you see, the dreaded windscreen math equations that nearly kept me out of the cockpit were, in reality, just radio frequencies the pilots had written on the window for their convenience.
I consider myself a hero and role model for the math challenged because I’ve flown numerous military aircraft, corporate jets, airliners across the Atlantic, and my own little airplane for nearly fifty years, all with the knowledge that there are 360 degrees in a circle. What else, as a pilot, do you need to know?