held out. We were cleared to land a
good distance from the airport and, 20
minutes later, touched down safely in my
smoothest landing of the trip. Go figure.
The good news was, the problem was
only a broken wire, and three hours later,
we were taxiing out for takeoff again. But
our early start and the stress of the day
was beginning to take its toll. I’d done my
previous takeoff and landings on Runway
31, which meets at a “V” with Runway
35. So although I confirmed the tower’s
takeoff clearance for 35, I automatically
kept rolling toward 31.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Three-five, not
three-one!” Connor exclaimed.
I snapped back to attention and did
an elaborate S-turn back to 31. “Wow,
Connor, thank you,” I said.
Twice in one afternoon, Connor’s cool
head, sharp eyes, and quick mind had
given me invaluable backup. This from a
17-year-old who wasn’t even a pilot yet,
but was proving to be the best copilot I’d
ever had. Who would have guessed?
It’s easy to bemoan the state of
youth today. Adults have been doing it
for centuries. But like so many other
generalizations, lumping them all
together does a disservice to the real live
individuals who make up that group. I’m
not silly enough to pretend I understand
teenagers today, just because I was one,
once. But somewhere in the skies over
America, I was beginning to understand a
little more about this particular one. Just a
little. But enough to realize there was a lot
of smart, intriguing, and impressive stuff
in the midst of all that search for identity,
independence, and video game mastery.
I didn’t say all that to Connor, of course.
I’m not fluent in male-speak, but I know
enough to know that simple, symbolic
phrases are often not only sufficient, but
preferred. So as we headed east to Peoria,
Illinois, I just looked at him and said, “You
know, Connor…I’ll fly with you anytime.”
He gave me a brief, knowing smile.
After all, in the land of adventure, there is
no higher praise.
Lane Wallace, EAA 650945, has been an aviation
columnist, editor, and author for more than 20
years. More of her writing can be found at her blog,
www.NoMap-NoGuide-NoLimits.com, and at