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Episode 1 - The Sky Is No Place For A Kite

Christopher was already awake when his cell shrilled into the red dawn.

   “Kit. You have to work for me today.”

Christopher waited on Jude to explain the sick joke.

    “You listening? Be at TP in 30 minutes. I am over regulation hours.”

    “Bogle would never let me fly one of his planes.”

    “I told him you were on your way.”

Even after the keys to the single propeller taildragger were placed in his hand, Christopher anticipated a last minute change of mind by the owner of Antillean Air telling him to get the what’s-it-not out of his lounge. Christopher’s reputation as an excellent pilot with a daredevil reputation was well broadcast.

He felt good sitting in the cockpit. When co-pilot Miller was seated, Christopher called the Tinson Pen control tower.

     “This is 6Y-J Papa Romeo, two souls on board. Destination MKJS in four minutes. Three hours of fuel. Estimated travel time 40 minutes. Requesting altitude of 3,000 feet.”

 The controller’s voice held a slight tone of surprise.

   “Pressure, 1013 millibars. Wind, 070 degrees and calm. No reported traffic. Clear for take off on runway 14…and welcome back.”

 With the sun in his eyes, Christopher released the brakes, taxied and felt joy as the plane went airborne into the brightening morning. He made a sharp right West, keeping out of the Norman Manley International Airport airspace.

Later, while walking through the Sangster domestic terminal, a fellow pilot grabbed him into a friendly headlock.

    “Kit! Is not you used to swear you would never fly a single prop ever again! Good to have you back.”

The gesture was like sun on the winter frost of Christopher’s soul. He tuned out a discussion about National Wind Power Day and immersed himself into the fellowship of the aviation community.

On the return trip, while flying over Kellits, Miller urged a warning.

    “Yikes”

A kite as big as the windshield slapped the glass, and for a moment all Christopher could see was blue plastic.

    “More out deh!” Miller said.

A dozen kites hovered ahead. If the tails got wrapped in the propeller, it would deliver an expensive repair job on the company. They had to get away.

   “Nobody thought of pilots when they were planning National Wind Power Day,” Miller groaned.

    “What’s that?”

    “Some crazy government PR promoting renewable energy by telling people to fly a kite.”

When Christopher had his first panoramic view of the Kingston metropolis he saw thousands of kites above the city. He asked Manley Tower for permission to divert through their airspace. Their reply was clear.

    “Request denied Papa Romeo. Proceed as directed.”

Christopher saw the red kite and he did not want to hit it.….just as he did not want to hit the girl who ran into the path of his motorbike. The memory of that awful moment replayed itself in slow motion and Christopher’s hand slackened. The red kite twisted wildly in front of them and Christopher realised that he must have cut its cord…caused its death.

    “At least Kite Day is a good use for scandal bags,” Miller said.

The banter pulled Christopher away from his memory of blood on the asphalt and back in control. He turned right and a cross wind from the South West buffeted them. At 1200 feet, they were at kite level and he zigzagged through them using all of his strength to keep the plane level, despite the gusts. Finally, Tinson Pen was in view. He lined the runway 22, wasting no time to lower the flaps, and like a seabird, touched down and stopped using only 500 of the 4,300 feet of runway.

Flying made Christopher feel invincible, yet a red plastic bag, sticks of coconut bough and string remedied his hubris with a dose of humility.

    “Every experience must be a lesson,” he thought, gritting his teeth. “Giving thanks; today was a good day.”