30 March 2015

Blue Yonder

Back in the Seventies, my high school friend Andy called me up and said his dad would take us for an airplane ride. Right now! Get over here!
His father LeRoy was a damned impressive man. A security guard at the local prison, he was tall and broad, with a Louisiana accent and a Roman nose that could open beer bottles. Probably. When I first saw him I thought "Beneath the spreading chestnut tree the village smithy stands..."
He had called the local airport and arranged for a plane, but when we got there it turned out to be a two-seater. So he decided to take us up one at a time.
First came the pre-flight inspection. LeRoy walked around the plane, peering up at this and that, wiggling flaps and opening doors. He was serious about it; no flying until he was satisfied.
He started up the engine; the plane shook with energy. Another couple of minutes of playing with the controls then he yelled "Okay Andy! You first!"
With the doors shut he drove it forward, then turned it around and taxied to the end of the runway, turned it again and started speeding faster and faster and it lifted off the ground.
I watched as it got smaller and smaller and then it was gone.
Forty minutes later it was my turn.
I didn't fly again for more than a decade, but that was really only half a flight as I jumped out around 2000 feet.