I open my eyes and notice that I have jeans on. I feel younger than I actually am. My right wrist has a calculator watch on it. Trying to ascertain as to my location, I look up and see nothing but blue sky and white, puffy clouds. I’m looking through a skylight. Actually, I’m looking through the top of an airplane. Once my mind figures this out, I can hear the engine of the plane.
“Give ‘er a rip.”
I know that voice. Instinctively I put my hands on the controls and my feet on the rudders. I’m sitting in a rented Piper in the co-pilot seat. Dad is sitting in the the pilot’s seat, urging me to take control of the plane. He’s got a huge grin on his face, one that you would only see when he was in or near a plane. My dad grinned a lot, but the grin was different when he was flying.
I glance at the instruments to make sure I’m level with the horizon and then I decide to make a slow turn to the left. We are somewhere over a hilly, wooded area. I start to bank to the left a little bit. Dad is helping with the controls a little bit but letting me do my thing. As I gain confidence, I start to descend just a little bit. Well, I try to keep the change rather slight, but I push too hard on the controls and we start to go down more than I expected. I get dizzy from the change in altitude while turning at the same time and feel a moment of disorientation. The hills start to look closer and more menacing because we are headed toward them when we shouldn’t be.
Dad grabs the controls and pulls the Piper level. I gain my senses and am allowed to give it another try.
“You gotta work at it. Easy.”
He’s still grinning.
I decide that I have had enough of heading toward the hills and bank to the right.
“Well, we can’t go too close to the base. They don’t like it when we get into their air space. Gotta do it by the book.”
I level off and decide to head straight ahead. I squint as we head toward the sun, Dad is wearing his aviator sunglasses. He was always prepared like that. The sky is clear, the ride is smooth and the warmth of the sun coming into the cockpit is reassuring. A beautiful Sunday afternoon.
Dad takes the controls and banks us to the left with much more confidence than I displayed when I was trying to turn earlier and became disoriented. Urged to try, I do the same. I do much better and I successfully head us off somewhere; apparently I’m headed in the right direction. He continues to grin.
And then I jump, as I wake up and realize my alarm is going off, telling me it’s time to start my Friday.
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