you see, all of this is about
that it was us
up in those airplanes
as brave pioneers with
discovering that we can so
every second, every millimeter
carried us and
don’t think we
didn’t look down
upon barren field
and green grass
eye level with the tops of the pines
as only friends can
above it all
above all of them
Flying Folded Paper
“The barren field behind the school outfield is best for throwing airplanes.” said Little David. I didn’t believe him at first, but I came to agree. Primarily, the wind of course was ideal. The depth of barren field went vaguely southwest to northeast, the general direction of prevailing wind off the lake.
Hunters dispute prevailing wind differs from the weather pattern off the Big Lake, but nonetheless the wind dominates to the east in spring as the land warms faster than the water. I bring up the hunters, because Little David & I were not hunters, but many of the other kids were just getting excited to study for their hunter’s ed permit class the upcoming summer.
We ignored the hunter wannabe’s and set the school paper airplane flying distance and air time records, on Barren Field. Practice and experimental runs were perfect testing there, as it was pretty empty other than a stray line drive or a sneaky group sneaking over to the pines. Little David marked landing spots in sand for easy comparison tallying between fold variations. Thanks to the open stretch of ground, we got to the airplane before it could blow out of sight.
We didn’t understand the physics of flight then, not really, and Little David never would. Although, lift and thrust are fairly intuitive. A paper airplane doesn’t have much gravity to overcome, but any amount of weight must be contended – and the different kinds of paper we had available didn’t matter much (didn’t have much matter?). We gave a lot of thought to drag, but kept coming back to sleek is better for distance, because sleek maximized speed and thus greater distance could be obtained in any equivalent amount of time airborne.
The hunter kids gave up trying to compete with us fairly quickly. They didn’t have any interest in a game they couldn’t win, I liked to think. Maybe they found it boring after we decided that drawing designs on the planes was a pointless task. Or maybe they didn’t have the patience to learn the best throw to catch the optimal wind at the perfect moment. Little David didn’t mind, he’d race to the field in order to have a couple extra throws in during recess.
He didn’t come to know much about poetry, either. Not Langston Hughes’ broken winged birds on barren snow covered fields anyhow. And I didn’t come to know about Little David’s dying dreams; except from his estranged daughter. Although he visited me in dreams for years, I couldn’t find him until he was gone. Maybe it was better his only poetry was the Psalms.
His grandmother raised him read him Psalms, her favorites. When she passed, he had no family. He choose a half pint over his daughter’s Moon Pie when she was 7. But I’m not surprised the girl loves him so much. Little David’s joy was all the physics and poetry of our paper flyers.
credits in order: featured https://perpetualabsurdity.blog/2015/12/04/look-at-my-barren-field/ paper airplane in space, a real thing, look it up! http://blog.tailwinds.com/2010/11/12/paper-airplane-enters-space/ budding engineers https://blog.tcea.org/paper-airplane/ the industrial revolution class http://athenianblog.athenian.org/blog/2017/01/18/understanding-industrial-revolution-paper-airplanes/ the Moon Pie New Year’s Eve drop in Mobile, the eve of Little David’s birthday! https://bakeryboyblog.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/moonpie-drop-mobile-al/