Billie Silvey
History of Flight
Flights of Fancy
September 2007
An eclectic website about Women, Christianity, History,
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Flight in Scripture
Flight has always been a part of my experience.  My father was
a pilot in the the Army Air Corps.  He flew single-propeller
planes and was a Link trainer instructor, teaching prospective
pilots to fly in conditions where they don’t have a visual of
what’s around them.  That’s my dad above in the
machine with instruments like those in the cockpit of an airplane
but no way to see out.  The reactions of the pilot indicate to the
instructor if the proper moves are made to fly safely.

When he returned to civilian life, he continued flying, this time in
private planes in the Panhandle of Texas.  To maintain his pilotâ
€™s license, he had to log a certain number of hours in the air
each month.  He took odd jobs transporting goods and people
from one place to another to get the air time in and help offset
the cost of renting a plane.

I was the only member of the family who would fly with him on
those hops from airport to airport across the flat quilt of
farmland.  It wasn’t particularly pleasant.  Those closed
cockpits all smelled the same, a mixture of cleaning solution and
vomit.  It was no wonder people got sick, what with the bumps
from thermals caused by strips of highway baking in the sun
and the strong winds that knocked the light craft around the sky.

As I grew older, I came to value our time together and the
distinctive view of the earth you can only get from a private
plane.  I also learned to participate in the projects, from
navigation to steering the plane for short periods.

One job I enjoyed was aerial photography.  Daddy would fly
us over the site we were to photograph, and I’d hold the
stick steady while he’d lean out the window and snap the
shutter.  We had to bank sharply to be at the right angle to the
property, and the G force smeared our faces against our skulls
and spread our mouths into gruesome smiles.  We sold the
photos to the people who owned the businesses we
photographed, a unique view of the fruit of their labors.

Another was a flight to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport to pick up a
part someone needed to mend a machine.  On the way back,
we hit a terrible storm.  Visibility dropped to nothing as we
were surrounded by dust and dark clouds.  I was reading the
marks on the charts and listening to the radio for the distinctive
pattern of dots and dashes that represented the various
airports.  It was hard to do when the map kept bucking on my

Finally, I picked up Wichita Falls, and Daddy brought us in for
a bumpy landing.  I felt so relieved to be back on solid ground,
though my head kept bouncing around for some time.  I was
grateful for my father’s instrument training then.

After Frank and I married, we mostly lived on the West Coast,
which meant a lot of commercial flights home to see our
families.  The flights to Texas went fast as we traveled away
from the sun, arriving much later than we’d left.  The trip
home seemed to take forever, as the sun moved with us,
hanging at almost the same point in the sky for hours.  As we
set our watches back with each time zone, very little clock time
had passed while we’d hung suspended in the sky.

Finally, late in our lives, we were able to fly across the ocean
and visit lands I’d never really expected to see.  What a
treat to board a plane where the accents, and even the menus,
hinted of the joys to come!

In this issue, we'll look at the
history of flight, flights of fancy,
flight in Scripture.

I hope you'll share your own experiences with flight and what it
means to you but emailing me at