I would have made a great pilot for the Air Force. I swear. But they wouldn’t let me fly the planes because I couldn’t see well enough. I had help, sure, in the form of glasses, but that was considered unacceptable.
So I turned down their offer to join the army and did the unthinkable: I took flying lessons on my own.
It was thrilling to dance in the sky. Those poor other souls were trapped on the concrete, but I could go where I wanted. Over hills, mountains and lakes. They always had to go around. I could explore where I wanted to, not where the roads told me I could go. It was freeing.
I couldn’t really take on passengers. I didn’t feel like sharing my cabin space with another mouth breather. But I could carry cargo. As long as I didn’t know what was in the crates, I was perfectly happy transporting them to the outbound areas.
My wheels left the ground and the air smoothed out beneath me. It was another run to the snowed in town, just north of my city. I had crates in the back, filled with what I assumed were the routine supplies: canned goods, water, toilet paper, medicine and bandages. The sky ahead looked blue and pristine. I started the ascent.
I reached the altitude I knew I wanted to be at, the in-between space that had little turbulence, but still let my eyes wander across the land beneath me. Some would argue that I was too low, but I knew I could make adjustments at any point. I watched a herd of reindeer run from the whir of my engine.
The first mountain pass came up quickly. I adjusted to rise, and noticed something unusual. A steady stream of gray air rose from the side of the mountain. I banked left to get a closer look. As I coasted near, I looked down to see if I could see what could be the cause, but didn’t see anything unusual. I could make out no cracks, and this mountain was declared a dead mountain or, quiet for too many years.
I saw vehicles in the distance quickly covering the snowy terrain. “Scientists,” I muttered and pulled away, back on course. I smiled, seeing the second mountain pass coming up, with its peaks glittering with freshly fallen snow.
The rumble of my engines sent a wave of snow cresting down the mountain. My eyes scanned the path for any sign of life, but it appeared quiet. I kept going.
The air strip had been cleared, but it was going to be bumpy. Landing on ice was always a challenge, so I steeled my nerves and started to put the landing gear down. I dropped altitude as fast as I dared, but almost on autopilot, as I had run this route many, many times. Lowering my beast to the ground, I felt the shaking of the wind. It had me in its grasp, and I said my silent and quick prayer to be released, just as my wheels touched the icy ground.
I maintained control and managed to stop by the end of the runway. I turned off the controls, lifted the door, and stepped onto the ice.
“Eh, Jaz, great to see you again.”
I looked at the man who sauntered up to me. “Hey, Max. Great to see you too. Help me unload, will ya?”
“‘Course, Jaz. You know, we got bets that next time, you slip and end up on the water.”
“Yeah, Max, it’ll never happen. I keep tellin’ ya.”
He laughed then, a hearty laughed that showed his white teeth. The lines on his face were a little deeper, and I had to smile. He was still tanned, from all the work he did in the summer, even though it was nearly December.
We unloaded and exchanged more jokes before I was dancing in the sky again. I waved to Max before I left telling him I’d see him again soon. I was scheduled for another run in a month, but I said I’d try to get back before Christmas.
I didn’t think that the earth would swallow him whole before I could get back there.