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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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

May 26, 2015 First Things First

The Liberty Gazette
May 26, 2015
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely


Linda: Often Mike narrates his romantic reflections of the life and yearning of a child who would be a pilot. Gill Wilson’s poem "First Things First" is so Mike.

Reverend Wilson was ten years old when the Wright Brothers made their first flight. He became a Presbyterian Minister – and a pilot. As an aviator he founded the Civil Air Patrol and was the first member of the 400,000 member-strong Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.


First Things First

By Reverend Gill Robb Wilson (1893-1966)

The boundary lamps were yellow blurs
Against the winter night,
And I had checked the last ship in
And snapped the office light
And paused a while to let the ghosts
Of bygone days and men
Roam down the skies of auld lang syne
As one will now and then…
When fancy set me company
A red checked lad to stand
With questions gleaming in his eyes,
A model in his hand.

He may have been your boy or mine,
I could not clearly see,
But there was no mistaking how
His eyes were questioning me
For answers which all sons must have
Who build their toys in play,
But pow’r them in valiant dreams
And fly them far away;
So down I sat with him beside
There in the dim lit shed,
And with the ghost of better men
To check on me, I said:

"I cannot tell you, Sonny Boy,
The future of this art,
But one thing I can show you, lad,
An old time pilot’s heart;
And you may judge what flight may give
Or hold in store for you
By knowing how true pilots feel
About the work they do;
And only he who dedicates
His life to some ideal
Becomes as one with his dreams
His future will reveal.

Not one of whose wings are dust
Would call his bargain in,
Not one of us would welsh his part
To save his bloomin’ skin,
Not one would wish to walk again
Unless allowed to throw
His heart into the thing he loved
And go as he would go;
Not one would change for gold or pow’r
Nor fun nor love nor fame,
The part he played and price he paid
In making good the game.

And of the living …none, not one,
Regrets the scars he bears,
The sheer uncertainty of plans,
The poverty he shares,
Remitted price for one mistake
That checks a bright career,
The shattered hopes, the scant rewards,
The future never clear:
And of the living …none, not one,
Who truly loves the sky,
Would trade a hundred earthbound hours
For one that he could fly.

If that sleek model in your hand,
Which you have brought to me,
Most represents the things you love,
The thing you want to be,
Then, you will fill your curly head
With knowledge, fact and lore,
For there is no short cut which leads
To aviation’s door;
And only those whose zeal is proved
By patient toil and will
Shall ever have a part to play
Or have a place to fill."

And suddenly the lad was gone
On wings I could not hear;
But from afar off came his voice,
In studied tones and clear,
A prophet’s message simply told
For this is what he said
And why his hand will someday lead
Formations overhead:
"Who wants to fly has got to know:
Now two times two is four:
I’ve got to learn the first things first!"
…I closed the hangar door.

www.ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

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