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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Wednesday, August 28 2002 

Flying

My childhood fascination with Superman was not based on his being more powerful than a speeding locomotive, his ability to leap tall buildings, or even his enviable X-ray vision, but his ability to fly. Flying was my primary fantasy for years. Any report about the imminent appearance of strap-on jet packs or helicopter beanies had my undivided attention. I could walk for miles through the woods or pick blackberries for hours absorbed by what I'd do once I was able to soar like the eagles, or Superman. Now, I wonder what the source of that imagining was. Evolutionists might say it was recalling a biological imprint from the days when my DNA was that of some winged ancestor (yeah, right).

The World War II generation of children and youth, a bit before my time but close enough to have glimpsed, were captured by the then-burgeoning world of aviation. Flying aces like Nanty Glo High School's own Buzz Wagner must have been regarded as their superheroes. My brother Gary's classmate, John Hertzog, used to draw his own comics of air force skirmishes and send them home to me, evidence that he was preoccupied with the subject. The media were full of speculations that there would be a family plane in every garage after the War, and youngsters like my brother Bob were sold on the idea of piloting his own.

There may or may not have been a connection between my fantasies of flying like Superman and my peer generation's preoccupation with aircraft. If such a connection existed, I wasn't aware of it. I had never flown in a small plane and my imaginings didn't include looking down from a cockpit. On the contrary, I could see and feel myself swooping down like a hawk to threaten whatever displeased me. I never saw myself as a pilot, though that helicopter beanie idea suggested that some training would be involved. Superman was on television from probably when I was age 10, so I no doubt got ideas from that. Captain Marvel was my favorite comic book superhero, whom I consciously imitated in many hours of playing, especially in the barn haylofts. The closest approximation of actually flying available was there, where we could swing from the ropes slung over pulleys used to lift the hay from the wagons to the lofts.

One of the main sites of hang gliding flight is Fort Funston, which is now a park on the coast just inside the southwest city limits of San Francisco. I've gone there often to watch the gliders who walk off the cliff and soar much higher than that point, then glide up and down the line of the beach. I've also watched their counterparts at Chattanooga's Lookout Mountain. I've seen a couple of ultralights in flight...they're the only strap-on contraption that made flight possible for normal human beings (as opposed to military personnel). Ultralights are hang glider rigs with lawn-mower-sized engines attached that let hang gliders go where no hang glider has gone before.

I've found watching both types of hang gliders thrilling and reminiscent of the old feelings of my childhood fantasies. But I've never been tempted to join them.

Have you?

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

You know you're from Utah if...

Your great grandmother is older than the courthouse

You got a set of snow tires for Valentines Day

The bumper jack in your pickup will lift a house

Your back yard smells like sagebrush or various animals

A girls' basketball game fills the gym.

—Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for today

I happen to feel that the degree of a person's intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting attitudes she can bring to bear on the same topic.

Lisa Alther

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