Goddess mug shot The Goddess Speaks

Charlotte Phillips

Blue Angel
dreams linger

Seeing the Blue Angels flying in perfect formation above my home the last few days took me back in time -- back to when I put together models of them, thinking I would one day be a Blue Angel, too.

My recent 65th birthday left me feeling pretty old, but I was like a kid again, staring at the sky, running around in the yard and street, trying to figure out where to look to be sure not to miss the next Angel flyover. I was covered in chicken skin each time I got a glimpse of one of those magnificent flying machines. When they appeared in diamond formation, I squealed and giggled with glee. I'm lucky I didn't have a heart attack.

Although I never saw them in my youth, I was a fan from when I first read about them and saw photos of them in action. Fortunately, I found out before I could join the military that women couldn't be pilots back then, and I would likely be assigned to office work. So that was the end of that pie-in-the-sky dream.

As a kid, I was fond of all modes of transportation: planes, trains, automobiles and ships. I had a strong desire to travel to distant lands, but I first had to get out of northern Florida. It seemed to be a black hole. People born there stayed. Forever. They married there, had kids there, died there. The town was claustrophobic. It had no airport, except for a long-abandoned World War II airstrip. Influenced by James Dean, we ignored the "keep out" signs to drag race at night.

MEANWHILE, Trans World Airlines had started flying its Constellation aircraft. Although a far cry from a Blue Angel jet, the Constellation was the most gorgeous commercial plane in the sky. So at age 19, I decided to go to Kansas City, TWA's home base, to see if I could get a job. I had to get away before the black hole swallowed me up.

But I had never been on a plane. What if I got airsick? What if I fainted? Then someone told me that the lone Catholic priest in that 99-percent-Protestant area had a plane that he kept at the airstrip and that he went flying every weekend. I waited there for him the following weekend and asked if I could go along.

He was delighted to take me up. He was an accomplished pilot and wanted to show me everything he knew. After a few rolls and some upside-down flying, I believe I turned green. I staggered off the plane, thanking him profusely, trying not to let on that I was feeling pretty queasy. Although I didn't eat the rest of the day, I did not get sick. Still, I was sad, thinking I wasn't any good at flying.

But seasoned flyers assured me that being in a big plane was nothing like doing stunts in a small plane. So off I went on a Constellation to Kansas City, and I thought I was in heaven.

I never forgot the Angels. Twenty-two years ago, I went to their show at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station. I was in an excitement-induced stupor. To see them at last! I didn't go this year because now that I live in Kaneohe, I felt as if I had my own private show.

Charlotte Phillips is a former Star-Bulletin copy editor.

The Goddess Speaks is a feature column by and
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