Wings looked up at the familiar sound of a purring plane engine.
On the runway Wings’ granddad Props was waiting to take off. Wings watched with dull interest as his granddad gathered up speed taxiing down the long runway, engine roaring with mounting energy.
Despite Props’ old age, he still flew whenever the weather conditions allowed it. Of course he didn’t go for long flights but still no one questioned his constant flight bookings.
Except for Wings.
Wings simply could not understand the allure of flying. Sure, you’re up there and the view is great but at the end of the day there’s not actually much to do up there. It would be the same thing every day; flying somewhere, flying back home, and then all over again …repetitive. Not to mention the fact that it’s hard enough to learn to fly, never mind actually having to do it every day. Yes, Wings had had to learn the rules and dangers of flying, information about various locations and all about weather conditions and patterns, and so much more that he found himself dreading flying more than looking forward to it. So much work for something that, to his mind, wasn’t worth all that effort.
But the truth was that he was going to have to fly eventually. He was a plane; that was what he was made to do. It was annoying enough that all the other planes at his aerodrome and flying school considered him very strange for a plane. He was hating the very thing he was designed to do.
Wings was still contemplating his dilemma when his granddad entered the hangar. Wings was surprised at how fast time had gone by. Must have been a short flight, he thought.
“That was quick, granddad Props.” He said.
Rolling over to the corner of the hangar, Props answered, “Well, just did one circuit and decided ter come back ‘ome. After all, I wouldn’t want ter miss yer first takeoff.”
Wings looked at Props in the corner and sighed.
“Look, son, I know you’re not too keen on flyin’ but it’s really not as bad as ye think it is! Ye’ll find yerself enjoyin’ it more ’an anythin’ else!”
Wings looked skeptical but his large eyes were intent.
“Ye’ll see.” Props finished with a smug tilt of his nosecone.
“Wings!” Wings cringed somewhat when he heard his flying teacher’s shrill voice from outside the hangar, “Time for your graduation flight!”
Wings huffed and determinedly rolled out of the hangar and toward the runway where his school mates, parents and teacher were waiting. He was going to get this over with and show everyone that he could fly like a normal plane. Didn’t mean he had to like it.
He came to a halt just at the start of the runway and glanced at his teacher for her signal. Wings’ school mates looked on eagerly with a few muffled chuckles and giggles here and there, that Wings could hear clearly in the expectant silence.
“Good luck, Wings.” Wings’ teacher tilted her nosecone down slightly so she could look him in the eyes, “Soar!”
With that last word Wings felt touched. Never had his strict teacher said that to any of the other students before their graduation flights. And he could tell it was genuine and a heartfelt wish directed at him, that he would not only fly successfully for the first time, but enjoy it too.
Turning his attention back to the task at hand, he was filled with a sudden nervousness. He systematically went through all the checks that needed to be done, but took his time. A few more of his classmates sniggered and sighed theatrically only to be hushed by the teacher.
Then Wings was ready.
He counted to three in his head and began taxiing down the runway, gathering speed all the while. Wings felt the air pushing against his nosecone, rushing past his wings – and yet he felt no resistance. He was strong.
Last checks before takeoff…
…And then his wheels left the ground. He was shocked by the unnatural quality of it and was hit with a gripping fear. It only lasted a few moments, in which he shook unsteadily as he gained altitude but then he calmed and straightened again.
Attain required height and stabilize. In his mind he could hear his teacher’s instructions.
It was quiet. So quiet. Wings marveled at the peacefulness that cushioned him on all sides. Up here with the clouds, there was no noise or disruptions, only the gentle sound of the breeze. Having checked for possible causes of collision, such as other aircraft, all around him, Wings took the opportunity to gaze at his new and peculiar surroundings with a less critical eye. The clouds looked as fluffy as ever but so much bigger up close. With a feeling of awe, Wings realized that these were the monsters of the sky, the ones that, although beautiful and majestic in their own right, could be a danger to planes when flown through. So Wings carefully angled himself away from the nearest clouds. Far up ahead a flock of birds twirled and swooped, the sky’s own ballet dancers. Wings was concentrating on the feel of flying for the first time. He could feel the expanse of air beneath him and had the weird sensation that although he was hundreds of feet above ground, the air seemed to hold him up. He loved how free flying made him feel. He felt as if he was on top of the world and up here worries didn’t exist; just freedom and fresh air.
His radio crackled to life and he got the call to start turning back and to approach the airstrip in a gradual dive once he’d circled around.
It was with great reluctance that Wings obeyed.
Landing was slightly more tricky than taking off had been and Wings found himself tensing as the airstrip came closer into view. Closer. Closer. Closer.
Just as his wheels were about to hit the ground, Wings clenched his eyes shut anticipating jarring impact. A gentle bump was all that he felt. He reopened his eyes and gazed around in stunned joy. Three realizations hit him at once as his teacher, parents and school mates came to crowd around him.
He had just successfully completed his first flight.
He had just graduated.
But most importantly…he had enjoyed flying!
“Congratulations, Wings!” his teacher cried, “You have officially graduated from flying school!”
His peers were just as surprised at how successful Wings had been. They had all expected him to fail as he hadn’t seemed interested in actually learning to fly and had been half-hearted about learning the theory in class. They congratulated him in surprised awe. Of course Wings’ parents were ecstatic over their little baby boy being grown up and having taken his first flight and were struggling not to get too emotional.
Then Wings, despite still feeling dazed and over the moon with exhilaration after his achievement, noticed his granddad parting the crowd.
“So how was it, son?” Props asked casually, though the knowing look in his eyes and the smug edge to his tone suggested he knew exactly how it was.
Everyone had now grown silent and was waiting in suspense for the unusual little plane’s answer.
Wings simply smiled and said, “Are there any bookings for me?”
A wink from granddad Props, and Wings knew that he would never grow tired of flying.
He could feel his grandad’s spirit in him. And he knew it would stay alive in him long after the day when Props is finally forced to retire to the aviation museum.