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#10 - Sweet Sixteen

Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye. Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “The Little Prince.”

“Are you up for doing some aerobatics?” The pilot asked the fearless elder brother as he was strapping himself into the glider at the Hope airfield. His response was an unequivocal affirmation with no hesitation. He was excited by the prospect; not the least anxious. Such is youth. Iori was turning sixteen. I had glided with cadets when I was his age and knew that this would be an unforgettable experience.  

One often sees the gliders circling the hills in the valleys around Hope leading up to Sunshine Valley. The airfield is nestled just a short distance away. Iori’s pilot was an experienced Swiss who had grown up in the high peaks of the Alps. 

Ikumi was having none of it and was satisfied to watch his brother take to the air, under tow by the powered aircraft, circling high above the airfield around the nearby peaks. As the tow plane cut the rope, the glider, long wings splitting the mountain air, banked slightly and caught a thermal which it rode higher. Leaving the thermal, it then dipped to gain airspeed and, rising precipitously, it carried over in a graceful arc to complete a loop. Standing on the ground my heart was in my throat. It proceeded to do several barrel rolls and a series of maneuvers I hardly knew gliders were capable of. After thirty minutes of the most graceful moves, silent on the air, it returned, a sleek projectile, to land on the grass just in front of us. Raising the bubble canopy, the gunwales of the fuselage at his knee which has the effect of thrusting one out into the air, the fearless one greeted me with the largest smile I have ever seen on his face (he can ordinarily be rather stalwart in his expression). 

On a more sedate level, we often enjoyed a lengthy walk through Othello Tunnels. There is something grounding in the simple act of walking through nature, but mixed with long dark tunnels, precipitous drops from trestle bridges into a gorge with raging mountain waters the experience can be electrifying. History and the passage of time come alive as we reflect on the trains that used to navigate the mountain passes through here 

These and various other outdoor activities served not only as personal development, but also as bonds between brothers, who sooner than I might think would be living in different countries, worlds apart for many years.   

Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return. - Leonardo da Vinci. 

How did he know?

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