Monday, May 26, 2008

The Delight of Flight

I stand in the oil-worn floor at my auto mechanic's shop. He slowly types information in for my car inspection. I stare idly at the clutter and gradually realize that I'm looking at three model airplanes.

When he's done, Dan hands me my papers and breaks the silence.

'You're on Old Tenney. Who owns the ABC building? I need a place to fly my planes.'

I answer with what knowledge that I have and he talks about his model airplanes. One has a cracked fuselage. He hasn't flown the other one.

But most importantly, he needs a place to fly the planes because there are too many wires at the school up the road.

We finish talking and I leave.

Last night, I walk Old Tenney Road towards sunset with my camera. On my return, I have a fleeting idea that I could capture the reflection of the sunset off Furnace Brook by the old pump house. So I walk towards the ABC building where the pump house is.

I hear the sound first. The buzzing of model airplanes and I look over the ABC building to see planes buzzing, lifting, and rolling in their flight.

I walk the driveway, or should I say tarmac, and watch as one plane spirals down into the brook! The little crowd at the far end of the runway laughs! Apparently, the wing broke in mid flight and the young man returns with the plane, one foot drenched by the brook and muck that the plane landed in.

Ready For Takeoff 1

A young woman smiles and says, 'Dad wired the pilot in this plane to look either left or right depending on where you turn the plane.'

Dan beams!

I laugh as he prepares the plane for its first flight.

Taxi Down the Runway

Eventually, Dan warms the plane up with a taxi down the runway and eases the plane, motor screaming, for its first ever flight into the cool late afternoon air.

In Flight Photo

The little crowd is enthralled as Dan guides the plane higher, farther, swaying large circles around us and buzzing the parking lot for photo opportunity.

He calls one of his daughters over to see the controls and the girl laughs and refuses to try and fly it.

The plane soars, glides, rolls, and eases through the air. He makes a low pass over the field and begins another ascent.

'Oh no! Oh no!' Dan yells. 'This isn't good!' We watch stunned as the plane surges and the sound from the motor stutters.

'Oh no!'

The plane clips a small false olive tree and crashes into a patch of cat tails in the swampy channel that the Furnace Brook flows through.

Dan scurries along and I follow to see the wreck. We look into the swampy mess and predict where the brook runs. Dan walks to the far side of the brook and since I wear sandals, I decide to move in.

There's enough firm ground that I reach the plane at the same time Dan touches the edge of the brook on the far side.

'How's it look?'

'Good. There's fuel under the plane body.'

'That's ok.'

I feel a sting in my fingertip where I balance the plane off the hot exhaust system. Ouch!

I find a better place to carry the plane, I emerge from the muck to set the plane down on the pavement.

Dan's back and asks again, 'How does it look?'

'There is a little tape unfurled here.'

'It was like that before. She looks pretty good. Not a bad place to crash, I guess.'

I nod and smile. I said goodbye to the crowd and I walked home, listening to the buzzing of airplane motors as the crowd enjoyed the delight of flight.

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