Through Eager Eyes - Chapter 2: Machines That Fly6:29 PM
Full of Wonder and Innocence, a Young Girl Romances the Sky
By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor
(Note: This is the first of six chapters in a short story about my granddaughter's first airplane ride. Stay tuned to Airplanista for the next five chapters or download the complete PDF e-book here - dan)
Chapter 2: Machines That Fly
I have just been introduced to this magnificent piece of engineering masterwork known as Katy. While I do not yet know exactly what her function is, I am beginning to understand that it has something to do with flight. It's becoming increasingly clear that Katy is one of these "airplanes" that DooDah and Daddy speaks of with emotion and elation.
As I stand here on the threshold of whatever this wild adventure will become, it is marvelous how my world is changing with each passing moment. I look far off to the horizon and see another incredible flying machine gliding ever so gently to the Earth, touching down with such grace, it was as if a bed of feathers awaits its arrival. Everyone is pointing to it, as if they think I have yet to spot this flying craft. How wrong they are! Even before its sight was apparent, I heard the glorious sound it was making and knew precisely where in the sky to look. "Yes Daddy, I KNOW," I want to shout, but am too busy gleefully watching the airplane in the distance complete its dance with gravity.
The activity far away out on the runway is drawing me closer, I must investigate. Free of the grasp of anyone, I begin walking with purpose away from my family, away from Katy, across the tarmac, without a clear destination. But before I can complete a few steps in succession, Marmee – my daddy's mommy – gently but firmly grabs my arm and with a delicate touch, turns me 180 degrees back towards Katy. My feet continue to move swiftly, only now I am facing away from the flying machines I see in operation far off across the field.
Marmee seems to always know what is best for me. But in this case, the draw I feel towards the runway is intense, my soul being drawn to the landing airplane like moth to flame. Immediately following the precise moment when her hand leaves my arm, I perform the sweetest of pirouettes and begin a swift march across the tarmac in a fashion that can only be described as "darting." But try as I might, my small but strong legs are no match for Marmee's agility and reflexes as she instinctively catches up to me and scoops me up like an Eagle as it plucks a chipmuck from a meadow. Maybe Marmee cannot know my enthusiasm for flight, but as she quickly lofts me into her arms where I am now forced to reside, she is somehow successful at coaxing my focus away from the distant runway and its intriguing movements.
In a brazen attempt to keep me distracted, the adults surrounding me are all making sounds like airplanes now, it is seriously funny. My Uncle is also here, making gyrating movements with his arms outstretched on either side of his lean body in a comical attempt to get me to imitate him and play as if we are both airplanes. His intentions are of great merit, and I know he only wants to get me enthralled with the day, but I'm already there, times 10. So I throw him a bone and play his airplane game, stretching my arms out far to each side of my tiny frame, following at his heels making what I assume is the sound an airplane makes.
DooDah has helped get me to this point by being a fantastic salesperson for flying. He's a lovable guy, but it is surreal how everything he does in some way involves airplanes. On nearly every visit, my predictable friend can be sure to start making airplane noises, and I feel it the polite thing to do to mimic his sounds. Besides, everyone in my life gets such a charge out of my airplane noises, it is becoming my secret weapon to gain the attention of the large people that surround me. I have discovered that by making a few cute airplane noises, a wave of adult laughter can quickly envelope a room. And I have DooDah to thank for teaching me the correct sounds to emulate "the way of the Cherokee," or to put it more accurately, the way a Cherokee sounds. Someday, a goal will be to understand what is this "Cherokee" of which DooDah speaks of incessantly.
The buzz surrounding Katy is intensifying. DooDah is walking around the airplane, carefully checking all sorts of interesting things. He wiggles a set of movable surfaces on the large things protruding from each side of Katy, could these be wings, like a bird?
As my attention is bantered about, pulled in all directions by endless new things to see and thoughts to process, I focus on Daddy who has his eyes keenly attached to something in the sky above this wide-open field in which we stand. He begins shouting...
"Oh my God, what ARE they," he yells, as he and all other adults in proximity begin gravitating to...something. My Daddy seems more excited than anyone when overhead a group of four sleek black flying craft rocket past us at what looks to my untrained eyes to be the speed of light.
"DooDah," Daddy shouts, "what are those? They are all black, no markings, what ARE they?"
One by one, the slender black fighter jets slip back to the runway far off in the distance. As we all stand nearly speechless watching these mysterious machines arrive, another group of THREE unmarked black craft blasts over our heads, followed by a slow, graceful turn to follow their brethren to the ground. The sight of seven ships of unknown origin or purpose, arriving as if on a mission, baffles my Daddy, an inquisitive sort who is forever pushing to learn more about the world around him. He stands with mouth gaping, and I cannot tell if he is happy, concerned, worried or elated to see these swift black flying machines arrive. DooDah, maybe poking a wee bit of fun, says they may have come from the same air base that sends out the "black helicopters," whatever the heck that means. Daddy mentions something called "the CIA" as he describes the unmarked jets, but again, I have no idea what that means, or if it is good or bad.
While the commotion of watching the mystery ships arrive was oh so cool, it is nothing compared to the excitement that comes when Mommy loads me up into Katy's back seat. It is becoming crystal clear that yes, we are in fact going flying, and Katy is the one to take us skyward. I am so down with that, because in the few short minutes we have known one another, Katy and I are already trusting of each other's capabilities. I look at this great ship and see nothing in her that draws out fear, nothing that prompts uncertainty. No, it is my pleasure to hop into my seat inside Katy where I have a first-class view of a new phenomenal world unfolding right before me.
With myself firmly strapped in, Mommy joins me in the back seat. I am happy to see DooDah get in next, and he takes a position of authority in the left front seat. Next to him, Daddy occupies the right front seat, and soon everyone is strapped in. The excitement inside Katy is clearly building as everyone puts onto their heads the strangest contraptions I have every encountered. As I look around, it is almost humorous to see Daddy, Mommy and DooDah wearing these odd hats, with bulbous lumps covering their ears, and a sort of spike mechanism pointed outward towards their mouths. Each of these strange hats are plugged into Katy via a set of wires, and it is increasingly confusing to see the three adults inside Katy talking amongst themselves despite these giant lumps covering their ears.
The constant movement of DooDah's hands upon the dizzying array of knobs, dials, levers and buttons before him has me hypnotized. He moves with precision and purpose, touching each item on a small card strapped to his thigh while simultaneously touching one of the many controls on the flat surface directly in front of he and Daddy. I watch DooDah's every move – this ritual he is performing can only be described as choreographed, and beautiful.
However, my keen focus on what is happening in the two front seats is instantly shattered when Mommy tries to slip a small, pink version of these odd lumps-over-the-ears hats onto my head. I am startled, it is unnerving. Never before have I had such a confining device attached to my body, and while the sheer force of the lumps are pushing into my skull, what makes me yank them off immediately is that they seem to be designed specifically to prevent me from hearing what is going on around me. Mommy tries to put them on again, and again I swiftly remove them. We do this little dance a few times before she realizes that I will win this battle and have chosen to accept whatever noise comes next with raw, unfiltered joy.
And oh, what supreme joy soon enveloped my ears! Moments after I had made it clear to those around me that I was not going to wear the odd noise limiting hat, DooDah opened a small window next to him, yelled "CLEAR!" and with a blur of movements, brought my friend Katy to life. The large metal spinny thing in front of us makes a few slow revolutions in protest before erupting in a glorious symphony of sounds I have never before heard. The spinny thing whirls triumphantly now, so fast it is now a blur, Katy's heart vibrates, her body shakes in a smooth but powerful fashion. The sensation is one I could have never imagined. As the sound evens out to become a low, forceful growl, I notice everyone is watching me to observe my reaction. What could they possibly be expecting?
After all, I am here, Katy is here, the spinny thing out front seems happy, c'mon people, let's get this party started!