The title of this page reminds me of a song from the Disney move, “Beauty and the Beast.” I can hear Mrs. Potts (an animated tea pot) and Lumière (the candlestick) singing, “Be our guest! Be our guest! Put our service to the test!…” That being said, I would like to invite guest writers to contribute to this page.
This contribution is from my sister, Melinda DeCouto (known to her students as “Mrs. DeCouto). She talks about an expression used by pilots…
This afternoon I learned something about air traffic courtesy and communications. I picked up my youngest son, Michael, from Turlock High School at 12:25. He had a big smile on his handsome face and his long strides sped up a bit as he came towards the car. Tall and handsome, I figure he takes after his mother (me!). He got in the car and after greeting me said he wanted to go to the airport to practice some take offs and landings. He asked if I would go and watch him for a while and wait until his flight instructor, Bill, came at 1:45. “Sure,” I said. “I would love that, and I’m not going anywhere. I’m on vacation!”
“You’re on vacation!” Michael repeated, happy to know I was feeling great and was enjoying myself. Michael often tells me: “Mom, you need to take care of yourself.,” “Mom, you work so hard.,” “Mom, I love you.” He really is a valentine from the Lord, born Valentine’s Day 1997. He is happy when I am happy. As we drove into the driveway, he said “Just wait in the car.”
He came out quickly with his aviation bag. We drove to a store, just several blocks from our home. As he got out of the car, Michael greeted a gentleman barbecuing outside the store. “Good afternoon! How are you, sir?” He was enjoying a tri-tip sandwich and between bites, responded that he was well and thanked Michael. I waited in the car. Michael soon came out with two TAZO Peach Teas. He gave me one. They were delicious. The peach flavor was evident and the tea was very smooth. The sun shone down on us as we drove out of the parking lot and headed to the Turlock Airport.
We were at the Turlock Municipal Airport in no time. Michael unlocked the hanger and got the plane out. He checked everything over and determined his plane was ready to fire up. “Clear prop” I heard him yell from inside the cockpit. I was inside the car behind him, but appreciated his safety precautions and the warning. The plane started and he taxied towards the runway. I watched and waited until he had passed the hangars and was approaching the runway. I then drove to an area near the airport office for better viewing of the complete runway. Michael had his cockpit window open about 7 inches. I wondered why he didn’t close it. I thought, “What if he forgets and it causes a huge problem when he is taking off?” I decided to calm down, and when he passed in front of where I was watching, he stuck his hand through the opening and waved. At me! I waved back. I watched him taxi to the end of the runway and position for takeoff. He began to gain speed and just a little way before he had reached the runway directly in front of my car I noticed the cockpit window was all closed up. At that minute the wheels lifted and he quickly ascended into the powder blue sky.
I watched the plane gain altitude and bank to the left over the green farmland of the Central Valley. My spirit soared with him. I wondered what it looked like from up in heavens. I listened for him to come back around and land. He soon appeared, flying smooth and steady through the cloudless, sunlit sky. His landing was smooth, exact and steady. He taxied down the runway, and turned around to taxi for another takeoff. I watched and waited… And waited… And waited… I wondered what was taking so long. Then, I looked up and saw a larger plane coming in for a landing. Oh no! I thought, doesn’t this guy see Michael is going to start his take off? I leaned forward in my seat to see. I wondered what to do! I drove my car forward to get a better look. The plane was still descending. I thought, “Who is this guy? Isn’t this type of maneuver against the law?” (Like boating laws that state you cannot come closer than 100 feet to any wake boarder or wake surfer, or someone being pulled on a tube.) Oh boy! I thought I had better get this guy’s plane number and report him. He bore down, descending right over Michael. He landed, taxied down the runway, and then Michael took off. I couldn’t see the plane numbers, but moved my car a little to let the pilot know that I was WATCHING HIM! The guy positioned his plane for another takeoff, and by now, Michael was coming back in for a landing. I could see his lights flashing like warning signals from the tail of his plane. I thought again, “What is going on? Is this guy going to try to take off right in front of Michael now??” I was nervous. I stared intently at Michael’s plane and the one on the runway. Michael descended, landed without incident and went back to the hangar.
I drove to the hangar. After Michael turned the plane engine off and hopped down from the wing, I asked him about the incident. He explained that the pilot knew he was going to take off the first time and that he had told him he was “Holding short.” He was waiting for him out of courtesy. Then, when Michael was coming in the second time, the pilot returned the courtesy and was waiting or “Holding short” for him. I thought about this on the way home. I thought about how we need to “Hold short” or wait on the Lord in prayer. We can wait for His Holy Spirit to come down. When the Holy Spirit has come down, we will be ready for takeoff, cleared to go through with His flight plan for our lives.
Michael wants to train to work with Mission Aviation Fellowship. He is asking us to pray for the Lord’s direction. He wants to serve the Lord through aviation. It is my prayer that as we “Hold short” and seek His will, He will guide and direct us. May the Lord continue to give wings to our valentine.
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. New International Version (NIV)
I love this engaging story and the insight that Melinda had about “holding short” for God’s Spirit. She also used some good vocabulary:
*blocks The length of a city street, often used to give directions or to describe distances. For example, “I lived three blocks away from City Hall.”
*tri-tip A cut of beef from a triangular shaped muscle, thus “tri”, short for “triangular.”
*smooth When used to describe a food or beverage, it means a consistent, pleasing texture and flavor (not strong or bitter). When describing movement it means flowing evenly.
*fire something up To turn on or start something mechanical, electrical, or something that uses fire, like a gas stove or heater.
*Clear prop! To get clear of something or to clear out means to create space. Get clear, or stay/stand clear means to remove yourself or stay away from an area. Clear out can also mean to leave an area but can also mean remove unwanted material, as in “I need to clear out this drawer, so my guests can use it.” Prop is short for propeller. So, “Clear prop!” means “Stay away (or clear) of the propeller!”
*a wake, as in wake boarder or wake surfer. The white water and waves created by a boat’s motor.
*take off To leave. This expression is also used in everyday situations. “I’m going to take off,” simply means “I’m leaving.”
*cleared To get clearance or get approval, or permission. To clear something with someone means to get their “okay.”