Even when I can’t fly

I just love going out to the airport on Saturday mornings. Even when I can’t fly. This Saturday morning I woke up to our Tule fog. It’s infamous here in California’s huge Central Valley. It forms after we’ve had a good rain and the sun has had a chance to shine for a couple of days. The air is cold, the ground is warmed by the sun, and then we get fog as thick as molasses.

I drove out to the aiport through our valley’s rapidly dissapearing orchards. The golden leaves on the ground seem to glow with an inward light in the fog. If they were mine I would like to walk through those orchards breathing in the cold moist air bathed in a golden light.

Once out there I met up with the other members of my local EAA Chapter. The EAA is the Experimental Aircraft Association. An association of people who are interested in building aircraft. I became interested in EAA when I started building my own airplane. Our local chapter is full of mostly retired men. Older gents who have seen much of life. Many of them are Christian. Most are not building airplanes. They are just guys who want somewhere to go and something to do. Our local EAA chapter offers just that. When I arrived I had a plate of warm pancakes and rubbery eggs handed to me. We have a fellowship breakfast before our regular meeting. Most times the breakfast takes longer than the actual meeting.

I eat my breakfast and listen to all the chatter. We are in a cold, drafty hangar that the old guys who need a place to go and something to do built. It’s a good place to be. Warm and welcoming despite the cold foggy drafts from outside. Outside this hangar most have little in common. But in this place we are brothers who share a common love of Our Father’s sky. I spoke with some friends I haven’t seen for a couple of months. We share what’s been happening in our lives.

I share that I’ve been having hiddeous headaches. I get fatherly advice from 5 different men. I used to hate that. As I get older it makes me feel very good inside to have advice offered to me. It’s really the only acceptable way men have to show love for each other. When one of my fellow chapter members tells me how to get rid of headaches he’s really saying, “I care about you, I want you to live a long life, I want you to return to the sky with me.”

Thank you, brother.

We finish breakfast and have our meeting. There is some minor quibbling over meeting dates and times. Should they be changed? Should they not? Nothing of any importance. Most just want to feel like their opinions matter, that they matter. Yes, brother, you matter. You are needed and important. Tell me what you need to say.

The meeting is soon over with all issues resolved quickly. We then start working seeding an area in front of our hangar so we have a nice lawn next Spring. I help run pipe along the fence about 1/4 mile to a well so we can water our grass and plants. Somewhere to go and something to do.

I show a gentleman who is about to retire my airplane. He wants something to do after he retires. My plane is unpainted. Bits of primer here and there. Not painted in the two years I’ve finished it. I feel I must apologize for it’s appearance. He cuts me off telling me that the plane is beautiful. I see the look on his face. I see the look on his face. I know that look. The look of a dreamer, dreaming of the day when he can soar the heights in a machine he constructed. There is no deception in his voice. To him the plane truly is beautiful. I offer to give him a ride on the next sunny day we meet.

The work is long done. We all still stand around and talk airplanes. Some begin to drift away and head back home. I linger. The sun has finally broken out. I stand and smell the wind that has started to kick up. I can smell the acrid smoke from burn piles in the distance. I can hear the cattle at the ranch next door. I hear an airplane departing on his way to adventure. It doesn’t matter where. Every flight is an adventure.

I just love this airport. Even when I can’t fly.

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