I still remember that day. I was playing outside our house, when I heard a loud noise coming from the air. I looked up and I saw this thing flying overhead. I did not know what it was at the time. It was too big to be a kite, besides, kites don’t make noise. I watched it make noisy circles over our town. Then I saw it come down to the ground, then it went back up into the air and made more circles around town.
“Well.” I said to myself. “This was no kite.” So I ran over there to take a closer look. I got to an empty lot nearby. It landed near the corner of Saviors Road and Seventh Street.
The lot was too small to be an airport but back then airplanes were pretty small and very maneuverable. Actually, I don’t think there were too many airports anywhere at that time. Those airplanes needed very little space to land and take off, and when I got closer I saw some men string up a rope barrier around the airplane so that nobody would get near it.
It was a biplane, which means two wings. It had three very small wheels. They were pneumatic tires, which means they had air inside. The man who flew the plane and his friends were sitting on folding chairs. They were talking real friendly to anyone who came by to take a look. They did not notice that I was sitting on the front wing checking things out.
There was nothing around the pilot’s seat, just a lot of open air. The fuselage of the airplane was made of wood, from the pilot seat to the tail of the plane. There were a lot of wires that seemed to be holding the plane together.
The man who flew the plane looked over at me started to laugh.
“Do you want to go up for a ride?” He was pointing to the clouds.
I shook my head up and down to say yes. I was not sure of my English yet.
“Where is your mommy?” He asked me.
I shrugged my shoulders and raise my palms up to show him I did not know.
He climbed to the pilot seat then reached down and put me on his lap. His friend spun the propeller and the engine started. In no time we left the ground and I could see everything below. I saw the whole town, even my house. I could see the sugar factory, even past Ventura towards Santa Barbara. We flew over the old Olivas place. I saw the ocean and Port Hueneme. I saw the road that goes up to Ojai, the Channel Islands. We were almost as high as the mountains and then we came back down. I wasn’t scared but I have must’ve been a sight because everyone there was laughing, including myself.
I thanked the man then ran all the way home. I never felt freer than those brief moments in the air and I wanted to do that again. I was shaking from excitement still, but I knew I dare not tell my mom what I did. She did not like excitement. There were a lot of things I didn’t tell her.