formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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March 13, 2012 Beyond the airport fence

The Liberty Gazette
March 13, 2012
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: A small boy presses hard on a bike which from a glance appears too big for him such that he unable to reach the pedals when he sits in the seat. The tree-lined lane he’s traveling is adorned with bushy clumps of grass separating two dirt ruts left by the constant travel of cars. The boy is on a mission, an adventure, having returned to this alluring path, only this time he will go farther, searching and dreaming of what he will find. As he rides onto a portion of the road that is clear of trees, he is startled by a flash of color overhead and the roar of an engine and instinctively ducks his head and rolls off onto the grass on the side of the lane where his bike’s wheels sink into the softer ground and the bike comes to a stop and falls to the side. The young rider tumbles, rolls on the ground and looks off in the direction the startling object has gone.

Jumping to his feet he watches as the airplane makes a smooth climbing turn eventually disappearing behind the trees. The boy remains still, not wanting to move until the engine’s roar is no longer audible, as his mind fills with wonder, who is flying that airplane and where they are going? What does it look like from up there? What does it feel like to fly?

He knows now that what he seeks must be only a short distance more down this lane, and knowing this makes him push harder on the pedals to make the bike go faster. Finally, rounding a corner, there it is: the airport, the very symbol of the gateway to adventure. He had heard there was one here, almost in a mythical sense – nobody in his school really knew for sure. But he has found it. He is the adventurous one willing to search beyond the far horizons to discover, to conquer, to successfully complete his mission.

A short, three-strand wire fence separates a parked truck and car from a little yellow airplane facing away from him and toward the runway. Off to the side around a little building, not much more than a shack, sits another airplane. Sunlight sparkles bright as diamonds through droplets of water as a man hoses dirt off the wings. The young explorer spies a couple of other buildings. From the fence he can see propellers and tails of airplanes parked inside, and his dreams are energized with the idea of flight, flying low over a field, looking out over the horizon a hundred miles or more, where all the world is his to explore. His spirit begins to soar. This is no video game. He has discovered the real thing.

What if there were no airplanes beyond the fence, no roar of an engine as the pilot sets off to far-away places? What if there was no place a boy or girl could go and be inspired? What if children had only TV or computer video games? Would they even seek new horizons or would they become, as Rick Durden asks, "easy prey for the beaten-down adults who tell them to quit dreaming,” to be “content and attuned to just beetling across the surface of life rather than living it fully”?

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