It's a Plane!
Like many little kids, I was deeply envious of birds. Not just because they can fly, but also because they can go to the bathroom while doing so. Imagine how much fun that would be!
I observed birds as they flitted about and soon concluded that there wasn’t much to flying. All you need to do is build up enough velocity, spread your wings – I surmised that arms would also work – and soar up into the blue.
The tricky part would be obtaining sufficient speed. We had a swing set in our backyard, and I calculated that if a kid were to swing high enough and if he were to jump off at just the right moment, he would soon be in the stratosphere. It was a simple matter of physics.
One spring day when the weather was ripe for a pleasure flight, I took to the swing. Straining as hard as I could, I quickly reached what I reckoned was escape velocity. At precisely the right moment, I jumped.
And I flew! In my mind’s eye, I could see myself cavorting by the barn’s cupola with the pigeons and soaring with the gulls. I would soon be visiting cottony cloud castles, scribing circles around their fluffy turrets.
But something went wrong. Perhaps I didn’t flap my arms hard enough. There certainly couldn’t have been anything amiss with my calculations.
My flight was quite short. It was mere milliseconds between takeoff and impact.
It’s been said that any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. True enough. But in my estimation, any landing that doesn’t end with a bloody lip and permanent grass stains on your knees is even better.
Achieving flight via our swing was an obvious no-go, so I began to search for more conventional means. Whenever our family went anywhere, my eyes would scour woodlots and machine sheds for an abandoned empennage or a forsaken fuselage. Or maybe I would espy an entire airplane moldering in someone’s grove! In that case, I was fully prepared to claim it under the rules of finders keepers.
The back pages of Popular Mechanics magazine were another possibility. One could find plenty of war surplus jeeps there, but never a leftover P-51 or an unclaimed B-25.
I would watch aircraft intently whenever they flew over our farm. Using the proven power of mind waves, I tried to make airplanes run out of fuel as they crossed our airspace. My hope was that the plane would thus be forced to land nearby; after the pilot left to fetch gas, I could swoop in and invoke the finders-keepers rule.
One summer Sunday when I was about 10, a small plane began to circle low over our farm. I immediately locked onto it with a beam of intense mind waves. Imagine my delight when the aircraft idled its engine and bounced to a landing on our alfalfa field!
My siblings and I ran down to the plane. I was glad my younger brothers and sisters came along; they could distract the pilot so that I could quickly claim the aircraft.
But the plane didn’t contain just random strangers. It was crewed by our uncle and aunt Harold and Eldora! Who could have imagined that those old fogies – they must have been in their 40s! – would be so hip and daring?