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A Note From the Editor

Flying Is Fun in Any Language

By Harold Cannon, Editor, EAA Warbirds Briefing, hcannon@eaa.org

Flying a little bit of history is always special and sometimes a little funny, too. A few weeks ago, an old friend called and asked if he could let a couple of kids come out to the hangar and look around. Any excuse to go to the airport seems like a good one to me, so no was never considered. In fact, I seldom miss an opportunity to take a kid flying. What made these kids special, he went on, was their Sunday morning habit of dragging Mom and Dad out of bed to go airplane spotting. He should have added that both of these boys are from Japan and speak very little English.

Saturday came and the weather was less than ideal. Taise, 12, Masifumi, 8, and their mother, Sachika, had a great time exploring the hangar. Sachika’s command of English was great, but the boys, though taking English class in school, were a bit more inhibited. Yet just the chance to touch an aircraft had them in a very excited “Japanese-only mode.”

With a small pop-up west of thefield, I had just enough time to take Taise around the pattern in the T-34. One pass with smoke on, then another to land. It probably didn’t take 10 minutes, but I think it touched him in an unforgettable way. I should mention that during the preflight brief it became apparent Taise’s favorite English phrase was “okay.” Then the weather began to really threaten, and it looked like no further flying today.

Eight-year-olds who have been promised an airplane ride don’t need words to communicate, just big slightly wet eyes. With help explaining by Mom, we made plans to get Masifumi airborne the following weekend.

The next Saturday, the weather was ideal. Cool and clear, it looked like a good day to get some L-4 time. The preflight brief was a repeat of last week, and we strapped in and started to taxi out. Masifumi’s wave of goodbye to Mom from the run-up area looked a little weak. For the first time I began to think that, just maybe, taking an eight-year-old with a language barrier for a flight in a Cub with the door down might not be the best example of good judgment. Masi sat very still during the takeoff run. I asked, “How you doing up there?” “Okay.” “It’s so beautiful, isn’t it?” “Okay.” “Gotta love this smooth air.” “Okay.” “That’s corn in the field below.” “Corn-uh?…Okay.” My knowledge of Japanese, though, paled compared to Masifumi’s English.

As we droned on for a minute or two, I got an idea from our town’s newly opened sushi restaurant. Pointing down at a field again, I said, “That field has soybeans.” “Okay.” Pointing down with emphasis this time, I said, “Edamame.” I had suddenly unleashed a flood of excited Japanese from Masi. This time it was me repeating, “Okay, edamame, okay…yes, okay.” I was pretty much still laughing during the touch and go at a local grass strip and the ride home. Masifumi, now a content veteran of the air, was laughing and sticking his arms out in the slipstream. After landing, I got a big hug, and Masifumi began to excitedly recount his flight to Mom, who apparently had no idea that soybeans are a huge cash crop in Kentucky. It left me thinking that things have come very far indeed since the time that our nations were at war. The very aircraft that introduced Masi to flight had been a small part of that war effort. Let us hope and pray that our future continues to move forward in such a positive direction, “

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