Twenty-twenty. The importance of vision in a momentous year.
Because I didn’t have twenty-twenty vision, I was never going to be able to fly for the airlines. Although things have changed for the better in the last forty-five years since I started flying, in the 1960’s you needed perfect vision to fly for any airline – even the only one I wanted to fly for, TWA. Had I perfect vision, I may have followed that dream I discovered in 1954, when the Captain of the TWA Constellation came down the aisle on our leg from Idlewild Airport to Midway Field he stopped when he saw me and said, “Good Morning.” “Good Morning,” I replied, starry-eyed, my voice a nervous squeak. He reached into a pocket, pulled something out and pinned a TWA “JUNIOR PILOT” wings to the lapel of my sport coat. (Yes, I was wearing a sport coat, clip on tie, ironed slacks, freshly-shined shoes. My Mom was had on a pretty blue dress and long white gloves. My Sister, Jeanne, sported a pink, party dress – which she later puked all over on the next leg of the flight. You dressed up when you flew in the 50’s.)
The Captain said, “Maybe, when you get a little older, you’d like to fly for us.” I nodded enthusiastically, he smiled at me, my Sister and my Mom, patted my head, and continued on to the back of the Connie, no doubt to flirt with the Stewardess.
I studied my JUNIOR PILOT wings with pride and dreamed of flying intercontinental for TWA. I was hooked. Then my eyes went bad when I turned thirteen, and that’s when I learned that, lacking twenty-twenty vision, my dream would crash and burn. Such, as they say, is life.
When my Mom passed away, eight years after cancer took my Sister, six weeks before my Dad succumbed, heartbroken, that the love of his life was gone, I was going through my Mom’s stuff and found my JUNIOR PILOT wings. She had saved them long after my dream had died. I have them with me still – the tin has tarnished, the luster has gone, but they still hold magic for me, lo, these many years hence.
Of course, had my vision not failed me, and I had worked towards my pilot’s certificate, built my time, somehow got hired by TWA, shortly after the time I would have made Captain, TWA went belly up, American bought her assets and hired some of her pilots. The pilots were shunted to the ass end of American’s seniority list, and I would been relegated to Flight Engineer, or First Officer, for the rest of my career. That dream would have crashed and burned, too.
Life is funny like that. But, if you keep your eyes open – no matter how bad they might be – you might find that life presents an opportunity. Thus it was with me.
I got my pilot’s certificate in 1976, but I didn’t fly much – 176 hours over the next twenty years with a decade-long gap in the middle. Then the Kings, John and Martha, offered me the opportunity to work for them – and, when I became full time, the opportunity to fly the Sweepstakes airplane for the cost of fuel. Fine people, the Kings.
In two years I had my CFI rating. In the twenty-one years since, I’ve added nearly 11,500 hours to that 176 total. I was given an opportunity, I seized it, I teach most days and love every single day of my life – all because my vision wasn’t twenty-twenty.
Our country is at a crossroads, and desperately needs twenty-twenty vision early in 2020. As I write this, the House Impeachment Managers have completed their case to the Senate for their vote to impeach the Buffoon-in-Chief. Let’s hope that, once all the arguments are concluded – perhaps after meaningful witnesses have been called and important new information has been entered into the trial record – that twenty Republican Senators can seize their opportunity, improve their vision in 2020, find their balls, locate their spines and vote to impeach that racist, misogynistic, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, philandering, felonious, fat-assed, little-handed, orange-colored buffoon.
Here is an opportunity for the Senate – the greatest deliberative body in the world – to focus twenty-twenty vision on the articles of impeachment and agree that, yes, that miscreant had committed high crimes and misdemeanors, and throw his fat, lazy ass the hell out of the office that he soils with its presence.
Please, let’s hope that these Senators who represent the party of Abraham Lincoln, can re-discover integrity and honesty, and vote their consciences. Let that act, and twenty-twenty vision, be their gift to the American people in this momentous year of 2020. Seize the opportunity.