Night Flight

Date: Any summer, moonlit night

Any summer night with a full moon and a cloudless sky, I took to the heavens with Bill, my soulmate. I felt my anticipation grow when we walked around 7095G’s airframe in our pre-flight ritual like two lovers coming together in a complicated dance.

We moved in synchronicity – I drained a bit of fuel from the tanks and checked for signs of water in the fuel line. You kicked tires and examined the wings and flaps. We came together at the wing, (what I called the altar of oneness or in the words of Taylor Swift, I wondered if we’d “always be this close, forever and ever”), studied the charts, and used the compass to draw a line from our starting point at Essex County Airport to anyone of our usual destinations like Pottstown Airport or Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I felt like I was back in high-school geometry class when you reminded me: the shortest distance between two points is a straight line like an arrow hitting its mark.

Throttle pushed in, airspeed increased, nose lifted, and then we rotated. Gliding up on a pillow of calm evening air like a magic carpet ride, we rose above the horizon and headed west into the sunset. You piloted and I held our chart (like a horoscope for two kindred Pisceans) on my lap looking for landmarks along the pencil line I’d drawn to guide our way: small airports, railroad tracks, ponds, woods, rivers – anything that verified we were on the right track. I glanced up periodically and looked at the dashboard heading indicator – always confident we wouldn’t drift from our destined path.

Those enchanted summer evenings when the moon was full, I was encapsulated for a time in a cocoon with you. I felt dreamy knowing I was going where you were going. We were one, together in a cockpit where I glimpsed the majesty of the rising moon as the earth slipped away beneath me. I felt like J. Alfred Prufrock in Elliot’s Love Song – “Let us go then, you and me, when the evening is spread out against the sky.”

I didn’t care where we went! My heart raced with each dreamy, moonlit movement through space. Later on, grounded again, prepared for the return flight – I felt we were closer than before because we’d reached our destination: snuggled in the cockpit and the moon lit our journey home.

From my perch in the sky, when I gazed upon the lights in people’s windows, beaming up warmth in the night sky, I thought of the lyrics “there is harmony”. I was at peace.

As we neared our home airport in Fairfield, New Jersey, I clicked the button and turned on the airport’s landing lights. Within minutes, I was on the ground again.

I will always remember those nights under the moon glow when we flew (for a time) above the horizon and I felt like Saint-Exupery’s Little Prince, because I knew “real love.”

Our Cessna 172 and Teddy Bear (Schipperke)

Our Cessna 172 and Teddy Bear (Schipperke).

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