Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Maps & Planes

When I was about eight, my Aunt Flo started dating the man who would become my Uncle Wes. Aunt Flo, Mama, Forry, and I were all living together, so one day Uncle Wes took us up in his airplane. I'm not sure what kind of a plane it was, but it looked much like the one in this picture. Mama had flown before, when she eloped with my father, but Aunt Flo, Forry, and I hadn't. Indeed, in those days most people had never been in an airplane, and for almost all of the years of my childhood I had more experience in planes than most adults.


We flew from Stockton, where we were living, to the San Francisco Bay Area. When we were over the Bay, Uncle Wes pulled out a topographical map and pointed out to me all of the geographical features, mapping the paper representation to the reality on the ground. I learned to recognize a bay, peninsula, island, delta, coast, mountain range, and a river on a map. We could see all of the towns and cities below us, and how the closer you got to the City, the less space between towns. We flew over the bridges -- the Golden Gate, the San Francisco - Oakland Bay, the Niles Canyon, the San Mateo, the Antioch, the Carquinez, the Dumbarton, the Martinez - Benicia, the Richmond - San Rafael, and the San Pablo Bay Bridges.


When we returned to Stockton, Uncle Wes pulled out a street map and we flew low and over the streets I normally walked, tracing them from the air and on the map. The route from home to school. From home to the store. From home to the bus stop.

It was the most wonderful lesson I ever had and I've been in love with planes and maps ever since. And Forrest became a pilot as soon as he could afford the lessons.

4 comments:

KerrdeLune (Cate) said...

This brings back happy memories, of flying over the Yukon with my grandfather. I think the plane was an old Cessna, and how wonderful it was to see the trees and fields from above.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Wow...that we were all so lucky, huh? What an amazing way to teach someone about maps...

kenju said...

Wasn't it great that he taught you all that! Most men are too impatient, especially with other people's kids.

Kay Dennison said...

What a wonderful story! One of my earliest memories was when at age 4, my dad took me up in a borrowed Piper Cub. I was petrified at first then fascinated by the wonder of it all.