John Laming at the controls of a P- 51 Mustang in 1953.
The Dreams and Toys
of Girls and Boys
An Australian pilot’s story offers clues about inspiring future generations
CHILDREN, AS ANY PARENT, teacher, aunt, or uncle knows, do not see
the world the same way adults do. The boundaries of possibility
are far more fluid to a 7-year-old than they are to someone who’s
learned, often through hard experience, that everything is not
actually possible and life does not always turn out the way you
Assuming that they’re shielded from some of the unhappier end-
ings that life can dish out, most children also tend to see life as a
grand adventure instead of something to worry about. Even, in some
cases, when worry would be justified.
I remember, for example, the time my family went boating in
the Florida Straits with a wealthy client of my father’s. The man
had a 45-foot powerboat with a plush cabin and a flying bridge,
and our two families set out from Miami for a three-hour tour
kind of excursion. Unfortunately, the man had more money than
nautical knowledge or ability, and we ran aground several miles
off the Florida Keys, tearing the propeller shaft out of the bottom
of the boat. We started taking on water and discovered, when we
tried to radio for help, that the ship’s
radios didn’t work any better than the
depth finder did.