Saturday, September 19, 2009

#3 Altitude

During World War II civilian pilots were needed stateside to ferry newly manufactured war planes from factories to their designated bases in order to free up military pilots for combat.

She had been flying since she was fourteen along with several of her girl friends. They all lived near a small local airport and were able to bicycle over to the field frequently to take lessons from the instructor of the flying school.

She was nineteen and attending college when the war broke out. One day, upon finding out that a couple of her friends had applied to fly planes for the military, she also submitted an application. She and her friends were accepted into the program based on their logged flying time.

She was trained and then assigned to military bases on the East coast. One of her supervisors was an officer who paid particular attention to her.

One bright, clear day he asked her to join him as he flew a plane to New York. Sitting in the co-pilot position, she scanned the horizon before her and glanced around the cockpit trying to commit everything to memory in order to tell her friends when she returned.

As they flew towards the coast, they chatted a little, but mostly she gazed at the scenery below. Colorful patches of land, laid out like a quilt, unscrolled below them. The little squares of land would be ocassionally broken up by other geometric shapes with roads twisting with the geology of the land.

At the coastline they turned and headed North. As they approached New York City she could see ships sailing away and into the harbor. He decended a little so she could have a better view. She was caught off guard by the khaki colored decks on the Navy ships that were headed into the awaiting piers. She thought the ships were supposed to be painted a gun metal gray. He started to laugh as he decended a little bit more.

Now she understood. From this lower altitude she could see that the ship decks were not painted a tan color but were covered with hundreds of soldiers anxious to get back on U. S. soil.

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