The Pilot, the Witch, and the Hitman – Part 09
Clear Night, New Moon
Sam looked around the room, noticed a few weak smiles from the seniors, but mostly felt a collective resistance at being trapped a few minutes longer. He thought of all the eager faces over the years that loved it when he launched into some flying story, seemingly off the cuff, grabbing the listeners’ attention, speaking with authority. Sometimes it was young pilots eager to ride along with Sam, or a good friend. Often it was a woman dazzled by Sam’s travels.
“It was a dark and stormy night,” Sam announced and the remaining chatter died quickly. A few seniors leaned forward. “Well, actually,” he paused, enjoying the silence, the attention. “Actually, it was a clear night with a new moon. I was out of Burke Lakefront airport headed back to Skyline Field. Lots of stars. But without the moon it was coal black except for city lights and the cars moving along the freeway.
“I was in Cessna’s little trainer, a two-seater, a fine airplane that taught a lot of pilots to fly over the years. And it was summer. Had it been winter with snow on the ground it would’ve been a better deal. You’ll see in a moment.”
A voice broke in.
“Snow would reflect the light and you’d see a lot better if you had to make an emergency landing,” a man stated confidently from the second row. Sam had forgotten the fella’s name but knew him as someone prompt and smart about his recycling.
“Damn,” Sam replied, “I thought this was my story.”
The man just smiled, pleased with himself.
“Try not to kill my punch line,” Sam added.
“Punch lines are for jokes,” Marge Holloway said loudly, and a few in the room snickered.
Alongside the sky’s drama I began to hear the human one and started to write, letting the happenstance of strangers, friends, new places, and ideas dovetail into American Sky.
My uncle never cared for the faster aircraft, like his one friend’s sleek, twin-engine ship that cruised at 200 mph. He was content to push through the air at half that speed in his Cessna 150. What’s important is he knew what made him happy. I’ve always prayed for that very same kind of wisdom.