Each day at work I pass a small airfield on the way to my lunch time getaway - a little spring on the outskirts of Eden Prairie. The highway, "Flying Cloud Drive", is lined with aircraft hangers and tiny terminals, their pavements dotted with baby Cessnas, Pipers, and Beechcrafts. In passing I picture myself in a blue jumpsuit - greasy hands, greasy forehead - climbing out from underneath the belly of a broken beast.
Once, a friend of mine had a brother with a small plane. He took us up over New Richmond and I remember spending our brief minutes in the air half terrified by the noise and half absorbed with finding points I recognized on the shrinking land below. It was beautiful. Since, I've had semi-spiritual moments of revelation when pilot movies flit past on the TV screen or jumbo jets take off nearby my office - can I come too! Please? I imagine shooting past islands in Alaska or landing on impossible runways in Papua New Guinea - I hear they need missionary pilots.
Yet as I drove past - I found myself at the door of the hanger, turning the handle and nervously asking the receptionist about Free Ground School - see, I look nothing like a pilot at this point, I don't even look like I would be the kind of person who might be a pilot at some point. I'm wearing a cream linen windowpane dress with a purple ribbon, brown dress shoes and a girly gray cartigan (the fact that I even know its windowpane linen should disqualify me right then and there) ... but hey, I mean, its free school, right? Then, a little dog named Maverick rolled over in front of me and begged for a belly rub - well, I breathed, maybe this is a good sign.