Plane Crashes

Before World War II, airplanes were something of an oddity in the skies over Framalopa.  We would stop and gaze at a Piper Cub chugging along through air, occasionally cutting its motor and gliding for a few seconds while we held our breath.  I can’t recall ever seeing a commercial airliner winging its way from Tampa to Miami, not in those pre-war days.  I do remember standing in our front yard during the early 1930’s and hearing a whine that grated on my nerves like the sound of an electric saw cutting hardwood.  I looked up and spotted a dirigible, churning along at the top of the sky.  Was it the Hindenburg?

At the time, the zeppelin seemed no more exotic than an airplane—any airplane.  Pilots were the knights errant of the 20’s and 30’s, easily as heroic as explorers of the North Pole.  Both courted cold, dispassionate death, explorers tromping across windswept ice glades in minus-50-degree weather, pilots in contraptions as fragile as the model airplanes we built from balsam-wood sticks and tissue paper.

Then came the War, and planes filled the skies all over the United States.  Because the government established an Army Air Corps training base in our corner of the sky, planes were as numerous and natural as stars.  By the end of 1942, single-engine planes were soaring and looping above us in such numbers that we no longer bothered...

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