Friday, July 09, 2010

Through Eager Eyes - Chapter 4

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

A Short Story by Dan Pimentel

(Note: This is the fourth of six chapters in this story. Check back every Friday at noon when I will present the next chapter, or click here to read all chapters after they are published - dan)

Chapter 4: Wheels Up

Throughout my young life, I have been waiting for this moment to arrive. The sensation of flying in a small airplane is one I shall feel today, a sense of freedom, of soaring not unlike Eagles. It will be grand.

But the path here has been torture. For what seemed like forever today, my DooDah, Mommy and Daddy have been driving around the airport in Katy, with everyone waiting for me to scream "Let me out!" But I did not. They have tried to see if anything about flight scares me, they tried to remove me from my comfort zone, and they have failed miserably.

As I sit here about to take off on the most exciting adventure I have ever encountered, it seems so natural, this concept of flight. Some of my earliest memories are of watching birds hover in our bird feeder, their tiny wings moving in a blur as they hover to a stall before landing gracefully on the minuscule edge of the tray holding their bird seed lunch. I'm mesmerized as they then depart in an effortless ballet of movement, and catch the wind to glide off into the distance. Each time I see another small creature soar through our yard, I become hypnotized in the familiarity of it all.

DooDah has just said those words I have been waiting to hear, and we are cleared for takeoff. He again twists the very important white knob before him and Katy begins a tip-toe towards the large number one-six painted on this big road-like strip of tarmac. We line up in the center of the big numbers, and things start happening extremely fast. The anticipation inside me is about to reach explosive levels as I know we are about to...fly.

I am fixated on the capable hands of the pilot in the left seat directly in front of me, his hands moving everywhere now. But his right hand settles on that white knob, and he gingerly starts rotating it, screwing it in with a gentle, calculated touch. As he does, Katy's engine begins to come alive, and we lurch forward swiftly. As the white knob continues moving towards the panel, the engine's roar gets louder and louder, and we pick up speed quickly. As the white knob reaches the full-in position, Katy is racing forward, and as the speed increases, I can clearly feel something changing under the plane. It is the wheels, protesting as if they do not want to leave the ground. We seem to be stuck momentarily in a metamorphosis between rolling and flying. In a very short time, I see Katy's nose rise, and the angle of the plane changes dramatically, pushing me solidly back into the seat. Underneath the plane, the rolling sensation I have been experiencing soon vanishes, and as if lifted by the hand of God himself, Katy's big wings grab the air with enough force to lift us skyward and as we climb, I am amazed at how fast the ground falls away.

We are finally...flying.

Yes, I have flown in big jets, but the sensation was one of a flying living room, boring and without any real adventure. But as Katy takes us upwards, away from the tarmac, I am stunned at how cool this feels, how fantastic this adventure has just become. Inside the big airliners, I am usually fast asleep before the plane leaves the ground, but on this glorious ride through the sky, I am awake, alive, and feel privileged to be one of the lucky few humans on this day to be able to enjoy the freedoms that come from flying your very own airplane.

This freedom is something I treasure as each second of this flight takes place. Like the birds outside my window at home, we are now gliding through perfectly blue sky, no tethers of any kind keeping us from chasing this day's dream. I let my mind race on what a person could achieve with the freedom of flight, of the accomplishments that could be completed with such a magical flying machine at your disposal.

The houses below are getting smaller, the cars look like toys as they slip slowly beneath Katy's wings, which look to be shaped a bit like a Hershey Bar, square in design but sturdy in build. Down below, I see parks full of kids playing, and can only imagine that like me so many times before, they are looking up as Katy slips through the sky, wishing they could fly like I am today. I might be the luckiest girl in the world at this very moment, those kids are stuck on the ground while I get to dance elegantly through the sky like a feather.

This flying stuff is something I could get very used too. For some reason, I seem to be attached to it in some strong way, linked to aviation in what feels like a perfect relationship. As we move across the sky, my mind races at what I could do with my life if I too had a freedom machine like Katy waiting to take me skyward. There would be wonderful trips with friends to discover the best airports with the tastiest airport food. For some reason, it sounds splendid to enjoy a hamburger at a cafe overlooking a runway. There might be important trips to do environmental work on behalf of my community, getting there quicker so I can have the opportunity to do more good on the ground. In times of need, I could use my airplane to fly supplies to those suffering through a disaster, or maybe take some kids up – they would be like young Eagles looking to be set free as I have been today.

But that is tomorrow, and this is today. Now, I am smothered in glory and immersed in sweet emotions as the four of us are taken through the air inside a craft that seems content with providing a supple ride on invisible rails. As the city slips by below, all is right in my world. What troubles there are in the streets below are not welcome here inside Katy, she is my shield from the harsh realities of life, if only for the few moments that we are airborne.

Up here, there is abundant joy because we are flying, and angels have my back, this I know.