Maiden Flight

I’m still catching-up on my holiday blogging. Unfortunately, I think I needed a little distance to gain some perspective on Christmas 2015, also known as “Barforama.” Stories for another day.

In the meantime, I’ve noted that my husband, the one that I’ve been hanging out with for many, many years, uses a particular phrase with noticeable regularity.  I’ve never noticed this, so I’m unsure if it’s new or if I was just oblivious or if maybe he’s started hanging out with his childhood youth leader, Father Rod?  Now I’m sure you can just hardly contain yourself to know what this phrase is. And even if you don’t really care, keep reading…

So on Christmas Day, each of the boys received their very own drone. Now I must describe these drones because once we showed them to Nonna, it completely changed her mental picture of how “menacing” this gift was to society.

Imagine a teeny, tiny clover shaped helicopter about the size of your palm.  Or just click this link to see a picture. Stepping on it would be like squishing a bee… That’s why it’s called a Nano. In the ’80’s we’d have called it a remote controlled helicopter.  It has no camera or assassination capabilities… and the precision with which you can fly it is, well… what’s the opposite of precision?

So on a bright, sunny Christmas Day afternoon, Auntie Anlala, Uncle Geoff, Granddad, Devon, a barefoot Baby Brian, Jake, Nate, and I meander to the giant soccer/baseball fields at Lincoln High.

It’s a bit breezy, so we find a location in the middle of the field without any nearby trees or power lines. It’s our virgin voyage, our maiden flight, and I volunteer to test out how easy or hard it is to control one of the drones.  We place it on the grass… all systems go.  We have liftoff!

But it goes pretty fast, and shockingly high, and in a bit of a panic as it’s approaching the fence, it plummets from a remarkably high altitude back to Earth.  Jake runs into the distance to grab it and bring it back.  One second I see him holding it like he’s holding a bee by its wing, the next second he is screaming at me, “It’s gone!  It’s gone to Kingdom Come!  To Kingdom Come!”

I approach him as he’s freaking out, arms flailing, eyebrows sky high… and clearly whatever bad thing has happened is my fault.  The pilot goes down with the ship, I mean the drone. In an exasperated voice he tells us that he had it, but then it started buzzing his finger and he let go of it, and then it flew up into the air, over the fence and the trees and the power lines and into the great beyond, otherwise known as Kingdom Come.

Of course at this point I feel terrible.  I’ve just lost the drone on its very first flight.  We realize the problem is that the left control sticks in the up position and that cutting the power is the only fail-safe way of grounding our aircraft.  But this learning is too little too late.  Our new Nano is likely entering protected airspace, or stuck on someone’s roof, or crash-landed in a neighbor’s backyard, never to be seen again.

Fortunately, Uncle Geoff has his wits about him and silences us all with his hands outstretched.

“Shhhhhhh.  Listen carefully.  Maybe we can hear it.”

We’re quiet for a moment and then we hear something.  The sound of a buzzing miniature drone in the front yard of a house across the street.  There it is!  Hallelujah, praise the Lord!  We’re saved!  Or maybe I’m saved.

Geoff scales the eight-foot chain link fence in his flip-flops, crosses the street, gingerly picks-up our baby ‘copter, and returns to a crowd of cheering disciples.  Fortunately, there were no other close calls after that brush with death… or Kingdom Come.



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