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Inspiration comes from many sources.

By Mark GagnonPublished 17 days ago 4 min read

“Uncle Bill, I just saw the strangest-looking plane. It’s wing came right over where the windscreen should be. How is the pilot supposed to see where he’s going if he doesn’t have a windscreen to look out of?”

“Daniel, I’ve told you time and time again, never mind what those rich folks are doing in the field across from ours. We need to get this ground ready for planting. If they want to waste that fertile land to operate those contraptions, it’s up to them. If God wanted man to fly, he would have given him wings. Now, can we get back to work?”

“Yes, Uncle Bill. But someday I’m going to be a pilot.”

“No, you’re going to learn a trade and make an honest living. You’ll do something to make your daddy proud, God rest his soul.”

The year was 1927, and they were talking about Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York. Daniel came to live with his aunt and uncle in 1919 when he was 7. His parents died during the Spanish flu pandemic and his choices were, to live with his aunt and uncle or go to an orphanage. Fortunately for Daniel, his relatives took him in.

Bill was a hard-core traditionalist. He had only recently transitioned from a horse-drawn plow to a tractor because the surrounding farms were out-producing him. Modern technology may have forced its way into Bill’s life this time, but he’d be damned if he would accept crazy contraptions like airplanes.

Daniel was the total opposite of his uncle. He had inherited his father’s inquisitive nature and his mother’s zest for all things new. Fortunately, Daniel was old enough when his parents died to remember much of what they had taught him. Before his father left to fight in the Great War, he spent a lot of time showing his son how things were put together. His mother insisted he spend an equal amount of time learning to read and do math. Some of his parents’ teachings clashed with his uncle’s traditional views, but they managed to find common ground—usually! Aviation was a subject they would never compromise on.

Living next to an airfield only fed Daniel’s desire to take to the sky. When The Army Air Corps began using Roosevelt Field as a training site, bringing in all the latest flying machines, it was obvious even to uncle Bill that the teen was a lost cause. On days when there was no school, Daniel rushed through his chores and spent the rest of the day shadowing mechanics, flight line crews, and anyone willing to teach him about flying.

On Friday, May 20th, 1927, Daniel decided it was worth skipping school to check out the new plane that had arrived the day before. He needed to know how the pilot was supposed to see what was in front of him if he had no windshield. Trying to look like he belonged on the ramp, Daniel approached a group of men standing next to the plane. Most of the private aircraft and even some of the military planes sported names hand-painted on the fuselage. This one was no different. Its name was The Spirit of Saint Louis.

One man in the group spotted Daniel inspecting the plane from afar and walked over to him.

“So, what do you think, son? Will she make it all the way to Paris?”

“Paris! No one has ever flown a plane like this that far before. I don’t even know how the pilot can see what’s in front of him.”

“It has a periscope for looking ahead and I can always lean out the side window if I need to. Come on, I’ll give you a quick tour. What’s your name?”

“I’m Daniel, sir. Thank you for doing this. You won’t get in trouble, will you?”

The man chuckled briefly, then said, “I’m already in trouble since I’ll be the one to fly this bird to Paris. My name is Charles Lindberg. You can call me Charles. This will have to be a quick tour because I’m scheduled to take off in 15 minutes. Maybe you can give me a hand loading the bags while I show you my plane.”

Daniel’s heart pounded so hard he couldn’t understand why no one else didn’t hear it. He helped position the bags in just the right place to keep the plane perfectly balanced. When this was done, Lindberg briefly went over the controls. It was time to go.

“Thank you for doing this for me, Charles. Someday I will become a pilot and try to be as good as you. I hope I get to see you again.”

“I’m sure we’ll meet again, Daniel.”

Daniel joined the Army Air Corps the following year. During WWII he became this country’s first ace of that war. Unfortunately, he never met up with Lindberg again.


About the Creator

Mark Gagnon

I have spent most of my life traveling around the US and the globe. Now it's time to draw on these experiences and create what I hope are interesting fictional stories. Only you, the reader, can tell me if I've achieved my goal.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

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    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

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Comments (3)

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  • Donna Fox16 days ago

    I love the way you set the scene and allowed the reader to settle in. While still keeping it a compelling and engaging read! Amazing work, as always!

  • Michele Hardy16 days ago

    That’s a bummer Daniel never met with Lindbergh again, but still it’s amazing he got to make his dreams come true. Great story.

  • Tina D'Angelo17 days ago

    Incredibly interesting. Great research on this one.

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