At the top of the page I wrote: the day frantic Frankie Fay flew.

The Day Frantic Frankie Fay Flew

By —— Bio and Archives--July 9, 2018

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The Day Frantic Frankie Fay Flew
Sometimes, a well-intentioned plan to provide enjoyment for others leads to an experience one soon wants to forget. Such was the day when this old pilot and Frankie Fay flew.

“Dad, will you take us for a plane ride today?” one of my three daughters asked.


The little yellow airplane, a completely restored J-3 Piper Cub, was perfect for giving plane rides

“Okay, but y’all don’t tell your friends!” — which is exactly what they did.

The little yellow airplane, a completely restored J-3 Piper Cub, was perfect for giving plane rides. It had two seats, one behind the other, and could be flown slowly with the starboard side doors open.

While I was fueling the aircraft, my girls, along with a few friends, arrived. Then another bunch arrived, and another, and another — a hangar full of small children, black and white, along with parents. I thought … Lord! What have I gotten myself into?

While everyone wanted to fly, no one wanted to be first. Finally, Mandy Mae volunteered, but not before sticking out her tongue at her sister Frankie Fay.

After her dad secured the front seat’s safety harness around his daughter, we took off, made a gentle turn, and passed in front of the crowd a few feet above the grass strip so that the excited child could wave and yell at her parents and friends.

Following this same pattern, I took all of the kids for their first airplane ride, all but one: Mandy Mae’s sister Frankie Fay, who was terrified. But, knowing the other kids would tease her forever, the little girl allowed herself to be strapped in, and we began the takeoff roll.


Never again will I take any kids other than my own for plane rides

When the wheels were inches from the ground, Frankie Fay became frantic. Screaming wildly and leaning out the open door, she seemed determined to jump before the airplane climbed higher.

A pilot’s first duty is to fly the airplane, regardless of distractions, but I had no choice but to struggle with Frankie Fay first.
Something had to be done and done quickly, so I did what pilots just don’t do — made a steep turn close to ground and landed downwind.

As soon as the wheels touched, I killed the engine — but not before calamity evolved into catastrophe: Having freed herself from the safety harness, Frankie Fay stood up in the cockpit and was about to launch herself from what she must have thought were the jaws of death to terra firma.

Ignoring the airplane’s controls, I unbuckled my safety harness, leaned forward, and grasped the wriggling, screaming brat, leaving the plane to roll to what I hoped was a stop on the airstrip; it didn’t — off into an adjacent cotton field it swerved, bouncing over several rows. Finally, all was quiet and the airplane squatted, aslant and still.

Fortunately, neither the airplane nor the girl was hurt, but the pilot? That night, while filling out my logbook, I entered … never again will I take any kids other than my own for plane rides. At the top of the page I wrote: the day frantic Frankie Fay flew.


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Jimmy Reed -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Jimmy Reed is an Oxford, Mississippi resident, Ole Miss alumnus, Army veteran (Vietnam Era), former Mississippi Delta cotton farmer and ginner, author, and retired college teacher. His short story anthology, Boss, Jaybird And Me, is available at Squarebooks.com (telephone: 662-236-2262). His latest collection of faith-based short stories, entitled One Hundred By Five Hundred, is also available at Square Books (telephone: 662-236-2262) and at amazon.com. To receive Reed’s free weekly newsletter, send an email address to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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