#encouragement, 1948, blue skies, Children, control tower, dreams, Fairyland, faries, flying, Follow your Dreams, great war, long finals, night flight, pilot, Piper Cherokee, Piper Cub, solo flight, submarines, Sunderland Flying Boat
Have you ever been to Fairyland?
I realize that no one has ever asked you this question before….but I’m being quite serious, have you ever been to Fairyland?
Surely, you will have to think quite hard, back to the hazy days of your childhood, when all thoughts were acceptable and you spent hours talking to yourself.
It would be so nice for me to know that you did, in fact, have a recollection of a visit to that wonderful place. Perhaps you had a Granny, like mine, who believed, very strongly, that fairies were real.
What I remember of my earliest years was, my Mummy was often sick and my Granny used to care for me and my three younger brothers. My Daddy was a pilot in the Great War and he was always far away and gone for a long time.
He was my great hero, flying about in his big aeroplane, fighting with submarines and also taking care of all the men aboard his aeroplane.
I remember from the age of three, that my Mother was very proud of me and loved taking me for walks. She would show me off to her friends and to total strangers, who ‘oohed and aahed’ and said how beautiful I was with my blond curls and blue eyes! All I could say to this fuss was, “My Daddy is a Pilot and he flies a big plane”. I still have a sepia black and white photograph of me as a “little un” and I can understand why the ladies goggled. (Ha ha).
One day my Daddy came home in his pilot’s uniform and Granny told me the war had ended and Daddy was home to stay! I was so happy because, although I loved my Mummy and Granny, my Daddy was my hero.
Not long after Daddy came home, he knelt down in front of me (I was a small six-year-old) and said, “John, would you like to fly with Daddy to Fairyland”?
“Please Daddy, can we”? I replied excitedly.
I could not sleep for nights on end. But the day dawned, bright and early and we drove to the airfield. We stepped out of the car and I saw a little yellow aeroplane, Daddy said its name was, “Piper Cub”.
He strapped my brother and me into the front seat and then he climbed into the back seat and soon the engine burst into life. It was frightening at first and I clutched onto my little brother, who didn’t seem the slightest bit concerned. Fifteen minutes later, I shouted to my Daddy, “I can’t see Fairyland Daddy”, He shouted back, “We not there yet”.
After a while, which seemed like time without end, My Daddy leaned forward and released our safety belt and instructed us to stand up and look out the window.
As long as I live, I shall never forget the sight that I beheld below me. Tiny little houses, two lakes with sailing boats on them, little motor cars and a couple of steam trains, puffing away (the year was 1948).
All too soon we were strapped up and heading for home. That night I had wonderful dreams and I said to myself, “John, one day you must go back and visit Fairyland”.
I always remembered, very clearly, my visit to fairyland, but try though I may; I never managed to get back there.
Years later as a businessman I flew in big Jets to many different countries, but I never found Fairyland again. I later realized that at thirty five thousand feet and nine hundred and sixty kilometers per hour – Fairyland is not visible! It can only be seen from two thousand feet at a steady fifty kilometers per hour and only with the eyes of a child.
At the age of thirty seven years, in an endeavor to return to that wonderful place, I decided to pursue my father’s experience and one hot summer’s day found myself, as a student pilot, at the holding point of a runway.
I was terrified, alone at the controls of this little plane, that I had come to hate, and never flown without my instructor beside me; I nervously responded to the control tower’s clinical instruction, “Kilo Fox Charlie, you are cleared for takeoff……”
Pushing the throttle forward I hung on for dear life.
Much to my surprise, without my instructor beside me and low fuel tanks, the little plane leaped into the air. Once my shock had subsided, I realized that, I was flying an aeroplane, for the very first time – by myself!!!
I screamed out for joy and yelled with delight; but my excitement was short lived, suddenly a somber voice came over the radio “Kilo Fox Bravo….” the control tower was directing me; tower was fully aware that this was my solo flight. I followed all instructions and onto a place called, ‘long finals’. At eight hundred some feet and a kilometer or so to touchdown, I sat like a king on his throne, gracefully drifting down to earth….then I saw it….Fairyland; the little farms, animals, motor cars and little aeroplanes on the ground. After waiting all these years…I had finally arrived!
I spent many happy moments in the blue skies, years after that event, journeying to different places. I had the privilege of having children (including three of my own) as excited passengers, one of them being a night flight, with all the twinkling lights below…what was going on in their young minds? Did they see Fairyland, like I did, all those years ago?
Dreams do come true, especially to those who believe and simply trust in their dreams and, like my Grandmother said, Fairyland is a real place, promise, I would not lie to you…ask your children, they’ll tell you.
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