Head down and arms outstretched; I push hard to move the heavy hanger door. Cold steel pushes back against the palms of my hands and the loud squeal of sliding rusty metal permeates the quiet of the morning. My breath is visible in the air around my head, suspended in the frigid spell of dawn.
A distant rumble shakes the sleepiness from my mind and the wandering thoughts bouncing around become more focused. I smell the aroma of burning fuel and oil as I’m snapped awake by the stiff breeze generated when four large radial engines spin up to move history from the 1940s to the present and get it airborne.
In awe I watch as a ghost from the past ambles by on rubber shoes and slowly lifts itself into the waiting blue sky.
Excitement replaces sleepiness and I can’t wait to follow that path upward as I get my less notable craft ready to go. My quest to fly started as a young man and took me years of hard work to fulfill, but realizing this dream was worth it.
Birds are born to fly. Humans had to work hard to accomplish the same feat.
I appreciate the dedication and sacrifices made by the many who poured their heart and soul into the goal of taking mankind from a ground-based being stuck to the earth by the glue of gravity and giving us the freedom to change our perspective skyward.
Their courage is inspiring.
I love to fly and putting into words the feeling it gives me is one of the few things I struggle to describe. The closest I can come is an excerpt from the most famous poems about it:
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of…
— John Magee “High Flight”
I wish I could go back and watch that first interaction; the first time someone told someone else they would fly. I can only imagine the laughter and ridicule that followed. Fly like a bird? Are you crazy?
I am certain that same conversation played out many times again and again over the years, but with a different subject. You’re making a pen you never have to dip in an ink well? Are you crazy? You want to make a contraption that travels faster than 35mph on wheels? Are you crazy? You want to make a boat that travels across the oceans but doesn’t use a sail? Are you crazy? You’ll get into that aircraft and fly faster than the speed of sound? Are you crazy?
I wonder what our world would look like today if any of those who challenged the common sense of the times listened to the nay-sayers, put down their work and wandered off.
I wonder how many times I’ve been my own worst enemy in this same department and convinced myself that the goals I have are foolish ones?
The B-17 pictured above was ahead of its time and changed the future for many people. Someone had an idea and had the courage to follow their dream. The rest is history.
I have ideas and I have dreams. I don’t need to change history for other people, but I do need to make sure I don’t let my own fears or the negative words of others rob the future from me.
There are few things worse than looking backward in regret.
Time for me to fly. I never was very good at keeping my head out of the clouds.