Thursday, January 04, 2007

Plane As Day

On Tuesday afternoon, while throwing around the boy's metal and canvas gliding plane in the nearby park, an engine roar came out of the sky, and right above us was a large passenger jet no more than a few hundred feet in the air.

"That's not right," I said aloud.

"What's the matter Dad?"

"That plane's way too low. I wonder if it has mechanical problems. There's not an airport anywhere near here."

"Are there people on that plane"

"I suppose so."

"Well, I hope they're safe."

The jet lumbered on, staying at the same altitude, moving over a row of distant trees. Then, it was gone.

Another father with two young kids just entered the park. I asked him if he saw what we saw.

"Yeah," he said, still staring at the tree line where the plane had disappeared. "I hope it doesn't crash."

For a moment, we all stood there, silent, waiting to hear an awful noise, or see black billowing smoke rise in the bright blue. Nothing.

"Let's go home and check this out," I said to the boy, and we exited the park, leaving the other dad staring off in the distance as his children stared at him.

Within a few minutes, we were back in the house. I checked the local sports radio station, which is located down the road. All I heard was extensive moaning about Michigan's embarrassing performance in the Rose Bowl. Not a word about an errant plane. Checked the Web. Still nothing. Went in the front room and turned on CNN. No reports about any plane making an emergency landing in Ann Arbor. I left the TV on and looked out the window. All perfectly peaceful and calm. A jogger ran by. Two old ladies walked a yappy little dog. The boy was getting upset. He feared that all those people on that plane were in danger. His eyes welled up, and I told him not to worry, since we heard no noise or saw any smoke. I flipped through the cable news channels and caught an image of a plane landing at an airport.

"Hey, Dad," the boy said. "That looks like that plane!"

It was Air Force One arriving at Grand Rapids, the final stop for Gerald Ford.

"Yeah, it does look similar," I replied, "but there's no way that's the same plane. How could it get to Grand Rapids so fast?"

There's a reason why I don't pull a paycheck for making air speed estimations, for yes, Sonsters, you guessed it -- that was indeed the very same plane.

Seems that Air Force One made a pass over Michigan Stadium, where Ford played football, and which is five minutes from our house. The boy and I were witnesses to Ford's last visit to his old stomping grounds. And where Air Force One wants to go, it apparently goes, regardless of altitude. It was quite a sight, watching that big ass jet fly just over our heads. Had I only known beforehand. I would've waved to Betty Ford, one of the few remaining liberal Republican women, for her support of the ERA if nothing else. Beats the mass murder her husband bankrolled. A true "better half" in every way.