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Learning to Fly

I learned to fly at the age of 12—literally.  My father, an air force fighter pilot, believed his four children should understand the experience of flying.  But he had another lesson in mind as well.  The youngest, I remember when it was finally my turn to fly.  It was a long time ago, but I think the craft, a two-seater, was called a “Debbie.”  My father put me in the pilot’s seat “for a better view,” he said.  He sat directly behind me; we each had our hands on a long, black stick—no steering wheel.  We climbed into the morning sky, high above the Potomac River and for a few precious moments I thought it all wonderful.  Suddenly the small plane went into a stall—although I was not even familiar with that term at the time.  I just knew that we were diving.  Screaming, I turned in my seat only to see my father’s arms shooting straight in the air, a broad grin across his face.  “Get us out of this!” he shouted.  I looked out the window.  The Potomac River, polluted then, grew closer with every second.  I grabbed the stick and furiously began turning it, slowly, every which way, until our craft lifted.  I’m sure my father did more to control the plane, but he proudly patted me on the back.  Then I threw up.  A lesson learned, and a little girl soared.