done well to ensure safety and a great time. A young student
pilot helps stage departing aircraft. A local pilot, a school
teacher, spends the day firing his Bernoulli cannon and
performing other aerodynamics experiments for hundreds
of people who cycle through his “ground school.” Pilots
wade through the sea of children, calling numbers and
gathering their little brood for the next flight. Other pilots
and family members staff the registration tables, take
photographs, print Young Eagles certificates, and
welcome new friends.
It is a day I would like to store in my memory forever,
every detail of this joyful rush. I lost count of the number
of times children on their first flight used the words
“awesome” and “amazing.” I did count the number of
flights in which the phrase “look like ants” did not occur:
one. In the end, I do not know who needed this day more,
the kids who received this gift or we who gave it—we who
know how precious this freedom is, and how important it
is that we pass it on to our children.
Too soon, the event was over. The parking lot was nearly
empty and the ramp was quiet. In the blur of activity I did
not think to take a picture as I passed over the field, but it
would have been a beautiful scene, proving for generations
to come that even in this new millennium our little airport
has not yet run out of magic.
Technically, an airport launches airplanes into the sky
and safely receives them again to earth, but I have seen
it do much more than that. On this day, it launched the
Each Young Eagle received a certificate post flight to serve as a
memento of their experience.
imaginations of 150 kids; it gave them a new way to see
the wonder of creation and, perhaps for the first time, to
recognize how small and blessed we are. It allowed a few
dozen people to introduce our neighbors to flight, to plant
the little seeds that, in some, will grow into love. In a
few years this airport will be theirs, and theirs will be the
privilege of teaching and encouraging the next generation,
as our mentors encouraged us.
Our airport is not big, not fancy, or nearly as busy as it
used to be. Our town has just one paved road that some
people say goes nowhere. But, as kids all over our town now
know, our runway goes everywhere.
SERFI ‘09 SERFI ‘09