🍀“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” (Helen Keller)🍀
I would like to veer off in a different direction and dedicate this St. Patrick’s Day blog to my firstborn grandson, 14 year old Donovan, and share about his aspirations and recent accomplishment. Perhaps parents and grandparents will relate to my being especially proud of him. Each one of my eight grandchildren, if I may say so (and I will say so 😁) have exceptional talents. They have loving parents who are involved every day in their lives, and see to it that school is balanced by fun and healthy activities. The kids swim, hike, snowboard, bike, play drums, box, draw, paint, play soccer and baseball…and now one of them flies airplanes. So the focus today will be on the young pilot-in-training, Donovan, and announce to the other grand kids that they, too, may end up in a future blog – to their dismay or delight! Just wait, kids, just wait!
Donovan aka Donny developed an interest in aviation at a young age and recently achieved a huge milestone and fulfilled the first part of a dream. He joined a group of young aspiring pilots called Young Eagles which gives children between the ages of 8 to 17 the chance to sit in a co-pilot’s seat, learn more about aviation, and experience the thrills of flying with a volunteer pilot. As Donny took his seat, the pilot was astonished to hear how much he already knew. Donovan actually knew how to fly the plane – he knew all about the yoke (the steering wheel of a plane), controls, gauges and starting the plane. This doesn’t surprise anyone who knows Donny because when he gets an interest in something, he pours all of his heart, soul and concentration into it. His maternal grandfather even set up a yoke and flight simulator on a computer a number of years ago, and Donny practiced taking off, flying and landing, and flying under emergency conditions (engine failure, bad weather).
He watched as many videos about flying as he could. Whenever he flew on a commercial airliner, he hopped into the cockpit to chat with the captain. He could look 5000 feet high into the sky and name the type of airplane simply by looking at its engine. Boeing 737/747/777; Airbus A320/A380 – he knew them all. Whenever I traveled, he hammered me with questions about my trip and asked whether or not the plane wings had “winglets” (a short, almost vertical stabilizing fin projecting from the tip of an aircraft wing), and also wanted to know the year, make and model of the plane I flew on.
Before take-off, the pilot explained to Donny what would happen during the flight, and gave a run-down about the airplane he would fly in. There was also a review of an aeronautical chart and a pre-flight inspection of the airplane. It’s always the hope but no guarantee that the young eagle may have a chance to take the controls during the flight, but Donovan had a chance and he handled it with confidence. He had butterflies, to be sure, but that didn’t stop him from doing his co-pilot duty! In fact, when Donovan finished his 30 minute flight, he whispered to his Dad, “I think I could have landed that plane!”
I was inspired to write about this and share with readers after I learned about a rather funny incident that happened while Donny’s father, Ryan, chatted with people on the ground. He struck up a conversation with a Young Eagles volunteer who was assigned the role of ground handler. Armed with orange wands, she directed planes onto the runway. As they chatted, Ryan learned that the woman’s son had started with the Young Eagles and grew up to become a UPS pilot. So her son achieved his dream! But this wasn’t the end of the story; the woman went on to share that her son had been obsessed with fans when he was a little guy. My son Ryan stopped dead in his tracks and said, “You have got to be kidding me!” “No, I’m not kidding,” she said “Why, what’s the matter?” Ryan then shared the improbable coincidence that 14 year old Donovan had also been obsessed with fans when he was a little tyke. Now, what are the odds? Perhaps this is all some wonderful synchronicity indicating that Donovan’s future will have a similar track to her son’s. I wonder how many other pilots out there were obsessed with fans when they were young?
Mechanics and objects that turn have always fascinated Donovan. He was also obsessed by things that opened and closed, such as car doors and old, antique squeaky doors of country cottages. He was barely two years old when he set about to play with a rear door at a relative’s country house when someone asked: “Can’t Donovan just sit in the kitchen and play with utensils and pans in the cupboards?” (That is what our kids did in a pre-smart phone age. A very handy indoor playground indeed for inquisitive toddlers).
But Donovan was different – he liked the squeaky, rusty door and the way the hinges kept whining. As I watched him open and close that patio door repeatedly and I mean repeatedly(!), concentrating his laser like eyes on how the hinges worked and why they made noise, I just sighed and said to the relative: “I don’t think that’s going to happen!” Now look at my Best Bud! Soaring with eagles!
I chronicled Donovan’s infatuation with fans in my Oct. ’17 blog Thinking about “Think”.
“I can see now see the bright and big inquisitive brown eyes of a toddler watching a fan go round and round. My grandson at an early age loved mechanical things and fans were his obsession, in addition to the tumbling, rolling, turning innards of a “front loading” washing machine or dryer. I kid you not. As I held him in my arms and his eyes turned towards the ceiling fan, I could see, taste, hear and smell his thoughts first and then he uttered the words that still send us into spasms of deep belly laughs. Speaking of himself in third person and with all the seriousness of a college professor, he intoned:
“Go ahead, Donovan, you can do it. You can touch the fan. It’s okay.”
And now instead of pointing to a ceiling fan, he’s starting the engines of a Cessna 172. He wants you to know that one day he intends to ferry you across sun kissed skies and over international waters in a big commercial airplane, maybe with Alaska, United or Delta. He’s already researched where they fly, pilots’ pay, hiring requirements (college degree, flight hours, license), and where their biggest hubs are, etc.
If one day you are boarding a plane and see a handsome young man in the cockpit with twinkling brown eyes, a high wattage smile, and a gentle, winning personality, I hope you will greet him and give an enthusiastic thumbs up to my hero, PIC (pilot in command) : “Captain Donovan”.
What are your dreams? Whatever they may be, Donny and I hope all your dreams take wing…and happy St. Paddy’s Day! 🍀❤️🍀