Flying free like Amelia

Published 11:00 pm Friday, July 12, 2013

Mama didn’t know I was up in an airplane. If she had known, I wouldn’t have been.

Uncle James was the director of the ABC Board and he had made arrangements for me and my cousin to fly with an agent who was scanning the countryside for moonshine stills.

I’d never been in an airplane before and had no idea that I would be that day. But it was a turning point in my life. I became a frizzy-headed, knock-kneed, beaver-toothed Amelia Earhart.

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I had read her biography in school and thought that she was the bravest, most daring, most adventuresome person in the world. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to fly way up in the sky and across the Atlantic Ocean all by yourself.

But there I was, flying in the sky just like Amelia Earhart.

The world from up there was more amazing than I could have ever imagined. It was so beautiful to me that it took my breath away.

I could see why Amelia Earhart was so fascinated with flying. And I wanted to be just like her. Flying wild and free above the clouds, with a leather cap on my head, my scarf trailing behind me in the wind and the sun on my face. Just like a bird in flight. What a feeling that must be. But I wasn’t a bird so I would never know.

A couple of years ago, this ol’ gal got her chance to fly wild and free. Like a bird. Like Amelia Earhart with the wind and sun on her face.

At the Outdoors Without Limits bass fishing tournament at Campbell Lake, I stood and watched as Kenny Campbell’s Amelia-kind of plane — the kind with an open cockpit — soared up toward the clouds and then dipped behind the trees. The plane rippled the water as it passed over the lake. “Oh, my. If only …”

“You want to ride?”

My heart skipped a beat. Did I, Amelia Earhart, want to ride?

I hid my excitement. “Sure,” I said in a causal kind of way.

Just how Kenny Campbell knew that I was standing there soaring with my feet flat on the ground, I don’t know.

When I climbed in the plane, if butterflies could have lifted a plane into flight, I had enough of them. But once I got buckled in and the earphones on my head, I was transformed. I was Amelia Earhart.

If there are words to describe the feeling of soaring like a bird, I don’t have knowledge of them. Flying in a closed airplane is one thing. Flying wild and free like a bird – like Amelia — is another.

I just said a quick prayer and thanked the Good Lord – and Kenny Campbell – for giving me wings and one heck of a heavenly flight.

For one little short while, I was Amelia Earhart, but the feeling will last a lifetime.