The Carriage Driver³ – An Appointment with Annie
The two seater biplane did lazy rolls through the air above the wheat fields outside of New Concord. The old farmers waved as the plane performed its dance for their amusement. John had stars in his eyes as he felt the force of the propeller respond to his hand on the throttle. The warm, clean air sang of freedom and promise. There are farm boys and there are Flyboys. The ground was an ok place for some people, he thought. But I have the sky.
The country was cash poor, though still had strength in its people, who were going through tough times. John felt rich; he had his Annie and he had his flying. It was a constant struggle for him to decide which he loved more. When the war came for him, he did what many of his generation did. He fought and bled and fought some more, until the enemy, threw in the towel. The enemy was left to wonder where such hard men came from – the answer, in this case, from Ohio.
The wars came and went. Each plane that he crawled into went higher, went faster. The country was on the move. Avionics made the world smaller, the planets closer and heightened the vistas of space. The boy from pioneer stock on the plains of Ohio, set his sights on new frontiers.
“While the population was getting high, I was getting higher.”
“Adrenaline pumps through his veins,” Annie would tell the other military wives. They were intrigued at the thought. Test pilots are made of steel, she told herself. Faster than a speeding bullet, leaping buildings, etc., Superman had nothing on her Johnny. Except John could die. She smiled and squeezed her children tight each time he left for work to fly.
John tested his wings. The higher he climbed, the less resistance, he encountered. He viewed himself, like he viewed his country. Nothing but free skies ahead. This is America, the sky is the limit, and the sky was about to be pushed to where only poets had gone before.
Annie seldom saw John elated, but one evening he came home visibly excited. “Annie, they have offered me space. I am going to outer space.” The young couple made love that night. He like it was the first time, she like it was the last time.
Dreams do come true. The space race was as exciting as war and more profitable.
“The Country was green and heroes walked among us.”
Several green colored vehicles arrived at Griffins barn. Men and equipment were extracted from the cars and entered the barn.
Six engineers, three technicians and three angels stood around Griffin’s carriage. The oldest engineer ran some numbers on his slide rule. A young engineer checked the numbers on his Texas Instrument Scientific calculator. They compared numbers. The three technicians with the help of the three angels persuaded Nuelle to spread her wings. Careful measurements were made. Length, width and arch were measured. Thrust factors and weight ratios were checked in a book. The lead technician looked at the lead engineer and shook his head. The carriage with Nuelle in the lead would never fly fast enough. The old engineer held out his slide rule, the young engineer checked those findings with his own. The laws of physics were not opinions.
Captain Griffin Chaffey, sat on his new porch and watched the show. He never had this much attention given for one passenger. Every passage was equal in his mind.
The teams gathered their equipment and left scratching their heads.
As the dust of their cars settled Griffin saw a young fellow approaching. He was tall, with a trim build and a Robert Redford smile. A leather Naval jacket was hung over one shoulder, like it had become part of him. He had an easy way about him. He had that swagger that is so admired.
“Howdy,” he called to Griffin. “Is this the right place?”
Griffin stood and walked towards him. When close enough, he extended his hand in friendship.
John immediately felt at home. The air was warm and clean. The barn reminded him of home. All his aches and pains were gone. The bounce had returned to his step.
“A bunch of fellows were just here. I think on your behalf. They left confused. I checked my book. It says there are two of you joining me on this ride. Where is your partner?”
John smiled, “She is running a little late. I hope you don’t mind waiting a short while.”
“We have nothing but time.” Griffin walked over to the barn. “Come on. Let me introduce you to Nuelle.” The two men walked over and went inside. “Nuelle, this is John. He is the one I told you about.” She waved her tail and swished her mane. Griffin reached in his pocket and retrieved an apple. He cut it into four pieces.
John held his hand out. Griffin handed him two pieces which John fed to Nuelle. Griffin handed John a quarter more, and the two men shared in the bounty of the apple.
“Climb in back if you like.”
John hopped in and made himself comfortable.
Johnny from the back seat of the carriage told the story of when he was a child. “It was a warm summer morning. My Dad and I were working out near the barn. We were getting some chickens and an old goat fed. It was easy work, peaceful, ya-know. Our work day was just getting started. I turned and watched a bird glide down from a branch of a nearby apple tree. From his viewpoint he had spotted a nice juicy worm and swooped down, plucked it up and effortlessly flew back to the branch and enjoyed his meal. His work day, I thought, was pretty much over.
I watched my Father work from sun up to sundown every day of his life. The day I observed that bird, I knew that there was an easier way. I knew I had to fly.
Flying is like nothing else. Of course it is nicer when you don’t have two MIGS on your tail shooting the hell out of you. That happened a couple of times too many. But we all have our adventures. I am sure you know that.
When I meet my Annie, I knew I no longer wanted to fly alone. We went flying together. That’s what we called our life. We wanted to see it all. There was no better way to do that than to fly. Every flight hour I spent, Annie was there with me in spirit. She offered so much strength of character. When I was in a fight in the air, I knew exactly how hard to fight because I had to get back to her.
The three days I traveled at 17,500 miles an hour, I carried the memories of our days in the apple orchards together. The military gave me a chest full of medals, but my reward, well, my reward, I received early on in life.
“We are traveling the stars tonight. Annie, we are going home. Copilot me through the heavens, we are shooting for new heights. We hitched our dreams to the wind, and it carried us this far.”
Come Fly With Me - Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra Fly Me To The Moon Live 1965
Frank Sinatra - The Best Is Yet To Come (Original)
July 18, 1921 - December 8, 2016
February 17, 1920 -