Our CAF hangar & museum is closed on Mondays. I was there today because our annual audit was starting with folks flying in from our headquarters in Texas. There were a half dozen others there during the day, taking care of this task or that, but for the most part we had it to ourselves. After the auditors left at 17:00, jet lagged, looking for dinner and a horizontal soft place, I spent a few minutes walking around to lock up.
Since starting the day job at Habitat for Humanity, there have been several times when I’ve found myself the last one and/or the only one in the hangar. A couple of these times I’ve gotten a really strong, emotional feeling about the experience. All of the other times it’s been dark and a bit spooky, but tonight it was just quiet and I finally recognized it when it hit me again.
I was alone in a hangar with a PT-19, an SNJ-5, an F8-F Bearcat, an F6-F Hellcat, and a P-51 Mustang. Except for the creaking of the hangar in the wind (and it was windy!) it was quiet. By being a CAF member, a SoCal Wing member, and a staff member I was here with actual, honest-to-God, flying airplanes which were the ones which I had dreamed of and fantasized about when I was a kid. I could touch them, smell them, watch them drip oil (if they’re not dripping oil they’re probably out of oil…), and look at them as closely as I wanted.
I had been up flying in three of these planes. Because I’m also a pilot, once I get current again after my long layoff from the left seat, I can start looking at training to actually fly some of these planes myself, both solo and carrying passengers. It’s a stretch, but it’s not completely outside the realm of possibility that I could someday fly a Bearcat, Hellcat, Zero, B-25, Spitfire, or Mustang.
That feeling? It was the ten-year-old inside of me letting me know that this was really, really freakin’ cool, and I needed to remember that more often. This was the message from the past that said that I have made many of my dreams come true.
There are now other dreams, bigger dreams – but none of that diminishes the dreams of the ten-year-old who can now touch that Bearcat, fly in that P-51, or learn to fly that PT-19.
It’s a sense of wonder, realized.