A Tale of Two Jets


1958: "Flying" my first and only Jet

Sputnik I launched when I was two years, six months and one day old. Along with my family and thousands of other Americans, I would drop whatever I was doing to listen on the radio to a launch. Not much later there were television broadcasts, and we watched those too.

My older sister said that I couldn't name my teddy bear Teddy because that was just copying her. (I didn't realize she was hardly highly original in choosing that name.) It didn't seem fair, but I picked a much better name. Because I was very impressed with the rockets that propelled the spaceships, I called my teddy bear Jet.

Rather than supplying me with a garden-variety tricycle, my parents surprised me on my third birthday with my very own spaceship. I called it Jet as well, so my sister was probably right when she suggested I wasn't very creative with names. To say I loved that "jet" would have been the greatest understatement of my pre-school years. I tried to ride it long after I had graduated to a bicycle, and when we donated the riding toy to a disadvantaged family I gave it up with strongly mixed emotions. (I still have Jet the teddy bear.)

I never considered the possibility of flying a "real" airplane. The career options open to me were mother, teacher, writer or artist, with the last two acceptable only in conjunction with the first. Besides, only men were allowed to fly airplanes for a living; women were stewardesses. Small airplanes were accidents waiting to happen. The only time I heard about private pilots was when a light airplane crashed in the mountains surrounding my hometown in East Tennessee. I marveled at the bravery of the Civil Air Patrol pilots who risked their own lives searching for the lost Cessnas and Pipers. It never occurred to me that these men would fly for any other reason.



1998: Jet the Teddy Bear

"Mommy, there's a plane in our front yard!"

A Blanik at Byron

Friday the 13th (my solo story)