Thursday, March 5, 2009


Today, spring arrived if only for awhile. We have entered a string of days that seem to promise us the same warm temps and crystal skies we have enjoyed today.
It sent me back so strongly to the 1960s, and my days of wandering God's blue skies (and sometimes cloudy skies) in a small plane... first the Piper Colt in which I soloed; then a Piper Tri Pacer which I adored and would have purchased if I could have... and, very briefly, a Piper Cherokee 140.
In the late 1960s, I was grounded by serious back problems. After wearing a brace for some time before and after a tough spinal surgery, the surgeon told me my necessary surgery had left me with problems that would bar me from many activities I had enjoyed: tobogganing, ice skating (both winter sports I loved); and a number of others... AND THAT INCLUDED FLYING!
"Oh no!" I told doctor. "Before the surgery, I was checked out in a kinder, gentler modern airplane (the Cherokee) that wouldn't require so much gumption."
That didn't change the doctor's mind; and because his son was a pilot, he said he understood some of the mechanics of flying a small airplane. Among other problems, he said, taking high steps up or down (into and out of the airplane) would greatly jeopardize my unstable spine.
For a long time, seeing or hearing a plane take off with someone else's hands on the wheel and throttle, and someone else's feet on the pedals, would break my heart. But by the time I had reached middle age, I'd filled my life with so many other things that memories of piloting a plane had faded far into the background.
Still, I remained a sky person; in fact, as long as I can remember backward into childhood, the sky has held me in its power. In a 4th grade essay contest on careers, my own dream-filled four pages detailed all the reasons why "I Want To Be A Bird." It didn't dawn on me then that a GIRL could actually be allowed to fly an airplane!
Today a lonesome feeling for the sky washed over me again. I sat at my computer and googled up pictures of old Piper Tri-Pacers. I found writings by people who had restored those old planes and fly them today; and by pilots who, like myself, had become attached to a Tri-Pacer in their younger days and still remembered it as something special.
I spent hours at my desk "with" them, re-living my own air days.
I won't be returning to those days, but... isn't it wonderful that I can have such memories?

Your nostalgic R.A.T. (Rose About Town) writes this as she looks out at a setting sun and looks forward to tonight's starry skies in her bedtime walk with her dog. (Hey, I think he might be a sky "person" too).