Like a fourth of July parade, the spectators lined each side,
comfortable and expectant in their canvas deck chairs,
no red fire engines or marching bands filling the air
with music this time, though.
No hastily-made floats, either,
carrying a load of candy-throwing children dressed in
red, white and blue.
Nor, for that matter, are there any groups, colorfully-clad,
walking and triking randomly behind bright banners
promoting civic pride.
No, what the spectators got instead was
the roar of colorful aircraft, Cessnas, Pipers, Navions and
with a few Fairchilds and Grumans,
a 100 or so planes, taking off and landing, or buzzing
by at high speed,
six feet above the grass-covered airstrip,
an occasional smokescreen to keep the spectators’ attention.
Out of the swirl of the dissipating smoke,
it was his turn
and before concern could replace surprise
he was airborne,
harnessed in the open cockpit of a vintage biplane,
a WW II Navy trainer,
the noise of the loud single-prop engine
silenced for the moment by the sheer beauty
of floating, light and free,
above the tranquil scene below, more trees and water
than he had expected in east Texas,
with gently rolling hills, the acreage squared off in equal sizes,
a soft, green checkerboard of small homesteads,
inviting him to visit, friendly in some way.
“Take over, Bob. The control stick is yours”
from the pilot in the cockpit behind, startled him
out of his reverie.
And there he was, raising the nose, than lowering it and
banking to the left,
soaring like the angels in his life.
Endnote: “Reklaw” is “Walker” spelled backward, the name of the little town near Flying M Ranch where the annual fly-in is held every October in the rolling lands of east Texas. Brian, Kornelia’s partner, treated us both to the three days, paying all costs including the extra day Kornelia and I had to spend in Dallas at the Embassy Suites Hotel. He paid as well for our plane rides in a vintage Navy trainer, a WW II biplane with open cockpits.
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