Flight of the mariner
THE GREAT FLAMING ORB of the sun slowly disappears below the edge
of our world, trailing the vibrant spectrum of the sunset in its wake.
The reds and oranges of the western sky stand in contrast with the
purples and indigos of the eastern horizon. The yellow of an early-fall cornfield and the green of the closely cropped grass bridge the
gap between the opposite points of the compass.
A crowd has amassed along the south edge of the sod runway,
peering into the brilliance of the last vestiges of this day. They have
not come to gaze upon this perfect sunset, although no finer display
could be called from memory; they are here with a different desire.
They wait anxiously, eager to be transported back to the moment
when pioneer aviators transformed our world by bravely adding a
new dimension to our terrestrial existence. They wait to stand witness to the dawn of aviation, here in the 21st century.
FLIGHT OF DISCOVERY
In the distance, blades flash in the setting sun as a man purposely
swings the broad wooden propeller to give its cylinders their prime.
As the crowd watches, the man pauses as if to reflect on what is to
come, the anticipation grows, and then he
takes a stance. The blades spin once again,
and then blur in the sunset. From far down
the runway the faint, unfamiliar staccato
beat of the Anzani’s three cylinders reaches
our ears as the engine, dormant for a cen-
tury, returns to purpose and life. A thin
white vapor, like that of a steam engine,
trails in the propeller’s wake as castor oil is
transformed into smoke.
A PIONEER AVIATOR
Blériot was an inventor, an engineer, and a
pioneer aviator who is easily mentioned in
the same breath as the Wright brothers and