Learning To Fly

A young boy sits on the porch of his Ohio home amid the heat of a summer’s afternoon, bored and slightly sleepy, waiting on his father to return from another business trip. There wasn’t much to do in the lazy neighborhoods of 1878 Dayton, much too hot to run and play stick and hoop and the anticipation of his father’s homecoming deterred him from taking off to the local swimming pond in the cow pastures nearby. His brother thought him daft, but left him to stand his required watch.

Soon enough, his father returned and as usual, the young boy delighted in the anticipation of the coming surprise gift. The gift that was never a surprise anymore, but worth waiting for nonetheless. The boy’s eyes widened as his father brought forth the most delightfully complex looking contraption. The wooden stick had feathery like appendages at the top, connected by the 1845 marvel of the rubber band to a base with wooden legs akimbo like some sort of alien spider.

The man smiled as he explained to his young son how to wind the aperture at the top, winding the rubber band tightly upon itself, so that when released, the feathers twirled like a spinning top, taking the thing to flight, skipping across the ceiling of the porch before escaping those bonds and fluttering across the yard.

The magic had been released and the marvel of flight, the wonderment and joy of a young boy would enchant and obsess the young man and his brother for 25 years until a fateful day in the sands of coastal North Carolina that would make the names of Orville and Wilbur Wright famous.

66 years later, with nose pressed to the glass overlooking the runways of what would soon become the world’s busiest airport, a similar little boy stood mesmerized by the shiny tubes with wings that would defy gravity and take to the sky with his Aunt and Grandmother onboard and return them a week later. He asked his father why? and how? and exclaimed look! so many times. He ran with balsa glider and also made popsicle stick creations in his best attempts at being a Alphonse Pénaud or Wright Brother himself.

He, too, was obsessed with flight. He continued on the path to adulthood, but always would look to the skies when a plane flew over. Life would lead him down many paths, finally settling him into the service of his Nation. 40 years later from that day at the Atlanta Airport for the 3 year old and 103 years from that historical day in Kitty Hawk, a man stepped off of a P-3C Orion turboprop maritime patrol aircraft from his last flight as a Navy Flight Engineer. Almost 5,000 flight hours later, that little boy beamed as his man body had lived their dream, and the dreams of millions of others.

The dream to slip the surly bonds of earth, to fly and reach out to touch the face of God.He had flown.

This is his story…

Semper Fortis
Chief Chuck