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Nov 20, 2013

My Father's Wings

MaryAnn Gaver

We swung the glass doors open, and stepped inside the bright entrance of the National Air and Space Museum / Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. As we walked down that main corridor, I remembered all the times we took field trips to this place, and thought about how much I missed the twins now that they were in college. How many times had we visited?  At least three, probably four.

My mind shifted back to the moment...  At the end of the main hall (which is the 2nd level), we looked over the rail of the balcony and saw every manner of aircraft―some looked as  though they were flying. I took a deep breath and thought back to my girlhood days when we flew with dad...

We stopped and marveled at one of the greatest fighters ever―the Vought F4U Corsair. I took note of those protective blue wings. The mighty bent-wing fighter, capable of folding its wings (for space-saving reasons)―looked like it was flying right in front of us. Spanning 41 feet, those distinctive gull-wings looked impressive. 

I snapped a picture of Jay and my dad in front of another war-time classic, the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. I was glad that we decided to visit the museum again...

World War II Aviation. Pre-1920 Aviation, Cold War Aviation and Modern Military Aviation. The afternoon wore on... 

Engines. We froze. I could practically see the propellers spinning in my father's eyes when he glanced at the C-54's 1,585 pound engine. That thing looked like a clunky monstrosity to me―but knowing that my father was part of the Berlin Airlift in 1949, I could tell that this was an engine that was near and dear to his heart.

"So this powerhouse was actually in the C-54?" I listened and learned all about the Pratt and Whitney engine―known as the X-100. Reciprocating. 14 cylinders. Radial. 

My dad recalled a story from his days as a young Air Force mechanic. One night, standing under the wing of a C-54, he knew they had a major problem. High- octane gas was dripping from the wing. Well, it turned out that the mechanics finally remedied all the problems―fixed the engine, re-coated and sealed the wing. 

I recognized that if you're going to fly―it's what's on the inside that counts. And you need good wings, too!

As I looked down at my dad's weathered, eighty-three-year-old hands, and noticed his gnarled and beat up knuckles―I thought about all those airplanes he had worked on, how those hands had been inside so many planes. I reflected on how crucial it was for those mechanics to make sure the planes were ready to take flight.

My father, now the old pilot, the old mechanic, continued to talk. A few bystanders listened in, and I stepped away just for a moment. 

I thought about my eleven years of homeschooling. Just as my dad protected me under his wings by providing for our family when I was a little girl, my heavenly Father had us under His wings, His care―not only during our homeschooling years―but always. 

Even though I knew the twins were probably in class (at Liberty University), I left phone messages with each of them, "You're not going to believe this. I'm standing in front of the B-29! I wish you were here for Granddad's tour..."

Enjoy learning, and enjoy your family today. And if you ever have a chance to visit Virginia, add this place to your field trip list because it's absolutely amazing! It feels like you're in a huge airport hangar. It's much more spacious compared to the one in Washington, D.C. That one's great, too―but this one's even better!

love,

MaryAnn

Photo Credit: F4U Corsair low pass by Warren Parsons via Compfight cc

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