Voices and our mental image

Toys from my past–This fleet of Piper Tomahawks owned by Philippine Airlines Aviation School, were brand new when I arrived in Manila, Philippines for my flight training in 1979. My classmates and I were the first group of trainees to cut our teeth on these trainers. Photo by the late Captain Petronilo Dangoy, superintendent of the school and personal pilot for former president Ferdinand Marcos.

For most folks when we close our eyes, our ears take over as the primary sensor.

The problem is our brain has ideas of its own.

And boy does it ever.

It must have been 1980 when I realized this for the first time.

I was a lot younger then and I was learning to fly in the outskirts of Manila in the Philippines.

Picture a bunch of adolescent guys between the ages of 18-24, whose only responsibility is to attend ground school, sleep, eat and learn to fly.

We were all trainees but had been released to fly “solo” so part of our training was to clock hours as we flew our little Piper Tomahawks out of the domestic airport adjacent to Manila International Airport.

One fine day, a voice rocked our exclusive testosterone-filled world.

We heard a woman’s voice when we contacted Manila Tower on the radio.

A lifetime ago–Exactly who took this picture I can’t recall now. This image is from a “4 x 6” print I scanned recently. It was taken at Yulo, a gravel airfield cut amongst a sugarcane field south of Metro Manila in a suburb called Canlubang.
My employer Singapore Airlines sent the lot of 24 cadets to be trained by Philippine Airlines Aviation school.

Mind you this was 30 years ago now and we were quite surprised to be taking instructions from a woman air traffic controller.

From that day on, you could hear all of us “trainee pilots” use our sweetest, nicest, most charming and flirtatious voice whenever we knew it was her shift.

Keep in mind that as pilots we have a decorum to adhere to.

We couldn’t exactly make conversation or chat her up.

Come on, this is the  very same frequency that airline pilots were using to land their jumbo jets and is often really congested.

Clearing my throat in my best manly voice…Manila Tower, this is Tomahawk Zero-Seven-Zero information Alpha, requesting landing instructions

So this flirtation, if you could call it that,  went on and on for months.

Finally one day, one of our instructors had had quite enough. He couldn’t stand it one more minute.

Manila International Runway 24–I remember how vulnerable I always felt when we crossed the international runway where the wake turbulence of any jet could easily flip our littler trainers or clip its wings.

He got us all together, marched us over to the tower and had us introduce ourselves to the mystery voice.

Suffice to say, somethings are best kept a mystery

And the lady air traffic controller?

She turned out to be a grandmother of 60 instead of that foxy young woman we all had in our heads.

Too bad I didn’t have a camera with me at the time. :mrgreen:

So what exactly does this have to do with photography?

I’m not sure my friends, but I think as photographers we should all be acutely aware of this.

Things aren’t always what they seem, especially today with Photoshop’s capabilities.

As photographers, we  create illusions even if our livelihood don’t depend on it.

Where do you suppose we get these sayings?

The camera adds 5 pounds.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

A picture never lies.

I’m sure I’ve left out some others. Suggest them under comments.

4 thoughts on “Voices and our mental image”

  1. Tony,
    Thanks for visiting and keeping me honest. That was a long time & at least 15 pounds ago.

    Everyone, Tony was one of my classmates in Manila.

    He is correct that we did “blow off steam” on the weekends despite our very small stipends from the airline. We did the usual Rites of Passage things, hence his comment NUDGE, NUDGE 😉 😉

  2. Peter

    You did cut a suave figure in your younger days.

    Good article which bring back fond memories. When you said all we did was attend ground school, eat, sleep and fly you forgot one more thing we did. 😉 😉

    Yes, drink San Miguel and Tanduhay Rum! HAHA!

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