Through Eager Eyes - Chapter 3: Flight Delayed, Flight Denied?

11:17 AM

Full of Wonder and Innocence, a Young Girl Romances the Sky

By Dan Pimentel,

Airplanista Blog Editor

(Note: This is the third of six chapters in a short story about my granddaughter's first airplane ride. Stay tuned to Airplanista for the remaining chapters or download the complete PDF e-book here - dan)

Chapter 3: Flight Delayed, Flight Denied?

This adventure just keeps getting better and better.

Now, with Katy's engine playing a new song I have never heard, I find myself listening with increasing glee to the throaty but smooth sounds reverberating throughout her cabin. Maybe this isn't the same song that angels listen to when they lay down to sleep, but to me this rumbling near the front of Katy is soothing, and makes me feel safe.

With each new movement of DooDah's hands on yet another of her controls, something new happens that makes this day increasingly rich. I watch everything that is happening with focused attention, perhaps because while it is still foreign to me, this thing everyone is calling "flying" seems natural, it seems right. It is with that in mind that I stare at the way DooDah moves gracefully through his duties as he coaxes Katy into moving. That white knob must be important, because he touches it in a special way, twisting it with incredible precision.

Eagerness surrounds me as Katy begins moving across the tarmac towards somewhere, I am not sure where. I hear DooDah say some words into the thing covering his mouth, but it seems odd and unexplainable that he is not talking to anyone inside Katy. Oh, but that is so like DooDah, always full of mystery and surprises.

I hear him say some words I sort of recognize, like "taxi", "bravo" and "Mike." As Katy's engine starts growling louder and the spinny thing rotates with increasing speed, we begin rolling faster, faster still, it is really cool! Mommy and Daddy are staring at me as we pick up speed and move across the airport, as if it has been pre-determined that at some point in this adventure I was going to freak out big time. What they do not yet know is that this feels so right, I only want more of what's next.

We are moving along well-marked roads on the airport, their edges defined by stubby lights set in perfect unison in the grass just beside the concrete. The huge yellow line running down the middle is like our guardian, pointing to...somewhere. Again, this entire day is one part dream, one road trip and three parts adventure, so whereever we end up, as long as I am with my family – including Katy the Cherokee – I am good.

We move along and I notice one of the big airplanes with all the people in it pass by on a parallel road, and as I get a good look at the two uniformed pilots in the front windows, I see something that really starts my inquisitive mind racing. From my seat in Katy's plush back seat, I clearly see that in the left and right positions in this little jet airliner's window, both pilots are...women. On many levels, this feels perfectly natural, because while traditionalists might say why, I exclaim "why not!" Why can't both pilots on a commercial airliner be women?

This is a question I am not yet qualified to answer. But I have a theory on this subject, and it is possibly as solid an opinion as anyone else might produce. Throughout my life, I have been told by everyone that being a girl shall not impede my progress towards accomplishing anything that I shall set out to achieve. If that task is to learn to fly big airplanes full of people headed off to Grandma's, or to become President of these United States, or walk on Mars, or cure cancer, then being a girl – and soon to be a woman – will not hurt me, it will in fact propel me to any heights that my goals and dreams require.

We taxi over to a large, deserted thing DooDah calls a "ramp" but this confuses me because unlike any ramp I have seen before, this area is flat. Go figure. We drive Katy up one side, turn, and drive her down the other, again, and again, around and around. It's as if the adults along for this ride are actually trying to scare me, as of that is remotely possible when flying is involved. I sit and watch as they go overboard trying to make me flinch, and smile occasionally to let them know that ain't happenin' today. What IS happening today – when they stop all this on-the-ground foolishness – is some real, life, get air under your wings aviating. I think. At this point though, all we are doing is driving around this airport while the other planes get to play with the sky.

But then...things start looking up as DooDah stops and gets really, really serious. He tells everyone to please refrain from chatter, and pushes in that important white knob to make Katy's engine ROAR! We sit alone on this deserted tarmac pointed generally at nothing, and DooDah is revving the engine while turning switches and looking intently at various engine gauges spitting out valuable data. With the brakes locked and the spinny thing clawing at the air, Katy rocks on her wheels in a fierce battle between her thrust and her brakes. The sensation is not unlike a rodeo ride on a bucking animal. It is clear that Katy wants no part of this ground condition with her brakes locked as what feels like a gigantic team of strong horses tries to rip the calipers from the discs holding us in place.

When this short testing phase is deemed successful, DooDah says Katy is ready to fly. Well it's about time, I say, I've been ready for hours! The adults in the plane again study my facial expressions, my aura, my outward appearance for any sign that I might be frightened having just watched Katy perform this crazy full-power parking stunt. They look at me and see only a grin, happiness oozing from every pore in my tiny body. It is because of this fearlessness for flight that the decision is made that we shall in fact go "once around the pattern" to see how I handle it.

Are they kidding me? Once around the pattern? Without even knowing what a "pattern" is or how many nautical miles it takes to go around it one time, how can I say to my fellow passengers and especially to my Captain, DooDah, that I want a longer ride? How do I convince them with enough emphasis that a quick hop isn't quite going to cut it today.

I consider throwing a fit to telegraph my feelings, but am afraid any sort of emotions other than "elated" might be construed as fear, and this adventure may come to an abrupt end. So I smile and try to look cute, it is something I go to when I want the big people to be happy with me.

Before any time passes, Katy has again moved about the airfield, and is soon parked just this side of a complex triple yellow line near what I assume might be a runway due to a very large number "one six" painted on the end. Don't even ask me how I know this, but I do.

The time has arrived for this day – and this life – to change dramatically, because I just heard DooDah say something that I've been waiting to hear forever:

"Cleared for takeoff."

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