Endless Journey

PPP-1 the Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1

Perfect Paper Plane

 

World’s Best Paper Airplane

Flown by

The World’s Best Ants

 

 

 

                          By

David Earl Thomason

Index

Chapter 1      The Beginning

Chapter 2      Airshow Saturday

Chapter 3      The Opening Flight

Chapter 4       Mid-night Travelers

Chapter 5       The First Cross Country Flight

Chapter 6       PPP-1 Live On National TV

Chapter 7       Bobby on National Television

Chapter 8       Night Landing

Chapter 9       The Morning After

Chapter 10     The Sky Divers

Chapter 11     Stuck!!!

Chapter 12     Balloon Buzzing

Chapter 13     Bobby’s Distant Dad

Chapter 14     Silent Flight ~The Chase

Chapter 15     Time to Fly!

Chapter 16     Cross Country Fun/Practice

Chapter 17     An Ants View

Chapter 18     To Catch a Train

Chapter 19     PPP-1 Update

Chapter 20     Near Miss

Chapter 21     Daddy’s Coming Home

Chapter 22     Time for “work”

Chapter 23     A Sailplane

Chapter 24     To Fly or to Fly

Chapter 25     The Catch

 

 

 

 

 

Endless Journey 

PPP-1 The Book

The Beginning

Chapter One

 

 

 

     Bobby’s Mother looked out the window to see her son playing with his new neighbors.  Seven 10-year-old boys in the yard, each with his own paper airplane.  The sky was full of paper airplanes, up side down, sideways and tumbling through the Air to each boys delight.


      Anne finished putting the cookies on the table preparing for the post pilot brunch.  She was happy to see her son making new friends; it would make starting a new school next week a lot easier.
   

  The smack of a paper airplane hitting the kitchen window startled her.  The red haired boy from next door picked up his plane and smiled a missing tooth grin at her.  "Tell everyone that cookies are on the table" Anne hollered out as Billy was running to the launch area.  She didn’t know if she was heard or not until the shriek of Little boy jet engines followed by the paper aircraft landed at the kitchen table for refueling.  She served cookies and milk, the old stand-by, but it definitely went over well.

 


     Anne noticed that her son didn’t seem as happy as would be expected.  Cornering Bobby before his #7 launch slot she gave him a ‘mid-day’ hug and said, “that’s a good looking paper airplane you have their.”  Bobby’s eyes watered and a tear dove down his face.  “It doesn’t fly” Bobby announced softly.  Bobby continued, “everybody else has a plane that flies, mine always crashes, it doesn’t go up, I wish mine would fly”.  Bobby’s eyes had already started drying up after venting his frustration.  Anne smiled and re-hugged him.  “I have an idea,” she suddenly blurted.  Leaping to her feet, almost knocking Bobby over, quickly made her way to the trashcan.  Pulling out yesterday’s newspaper she yanked one section clear and refiled the rest.  “Come here Bobby” she called out as she sat down, “I remember something that might interest you”.  Page 3 Center, Bobby tried to figure out the picture while his mother read… “on display…”  “Looks like some sort of aircraft” Bobby mused to himself.  “Hang gliding” Anne read.  Bobby couldn’t figure out what the aircraft was sitting on.  “In person” Anne was reading.  Bobby was wondering how it could fly.  Anne read the next line slowly, “worlds best paper airplane!”  “What?!”  Bobby shot back.  Now ignoring the puzzling picture Bobby started to read for himself starting from the top.

 


     Bobby knew about the Air show coming up but the rest of the article was about the Silent Flight air show team, one of the performers for the air show.  The team was at a shopping mall across town displaying the hang gliders that they flew in the air show.  Bobby read and re-read the next line three times before he uttered a sustained “wowwwww!!”  The line read,  “PPP-1, the worlds best paper airplane…  Will show you how to make…  How to fly…  Worlds best…!”  Bobby turned his puppy dog eyes on his mother who was already smiling.  “Yes, we’ll go” she promised.  Bobby let out a loud “ya-hooooo!”  He smiled his thanks and did a double roll after take off with the Little boy jet engine noise following him out the door.

 


     Anne started cleaning up the brunch debris and thought about Bobby’s real father.  Killed in the war, a fighter pilot, an excellent husband and a better father than most, a little boy’s hero.   Now tonight she and Bobby would visit the mall display without Bobby’s step Father.  He was also a pilot, an airline captain with a varying work schedule and all the stress you could ever have.  Anne missed them both.  Don might be home for the air show and he might not.  Anne had hoped that Don could get closer to Bobby at the air show.  Don could be a good father, he wasn’t bad, he just worked too much.  Flying had turned into a job and vacations were hard to come by.  Anne was taking the ‘be patient’ attitude.
 

    A double horn honk sounded from the driveway.  Anne wondered what Don was doing home so early as she drew back the curtains and looked out.  Don was already out of the car holding a flat, run-over paper airplane in talking to a sad looking Bobby.  Anne watched Don hand the flat plane back to Bobby, ruffle his hair and head hurriedly for the house.


     Don came through the front door and hollered “hello-goodbye!”  Don immediately started to retrieve his pre-packed overnight bag he kept ready in the hall closet.  Anne’s spirits sank a little.  She knew what was happening, overtime, and flying for cash.  Anne was more interested in some quality time, not the extra money.  Anne came up behind Don, gave him a hug and asked, “what happened out front?”  Don explained that he had run over Bobby’s airplane and that he had said he was sorry.  “Bobby told me that it didn’t fly very well anyway” Anne consoled.  Don checked his overnight bag as he told Anne of his next two-week work schedule.  Anne’s spirits sank even a little lower as she learned of a “guaranteed two days off starting a week from next Thursday”.  Anne’s thoughts flew to Bobby, then to the airshow.  She would be taking Bobby to the show alone and vowed from within herself to make it a great day, even if Don couldn’t be there.


     A quick kiss on the cheek and Don was out the door.  “Love-Ya and see ya soon”, he called out to no one in particular.  Bobby ran to the car meeting his dad by the car door.  “Sorry about the plane Bobby, accidents happen, right?”  “I’d make you another one but I’ve forgotten how and anyway I don’t have time, ok?”  Bobby’s eyes fell away as he mumbled “ok”.  A quick cloud of dust and Don was on his way.  Bobby waved; not knowing when is dad would be home again.  Bobby had seen this happen before and was wearing a sad face to prove it.


     90% Brakes NOW!!! Anne and Bobby compressed a bit into their seatbelts and screeched in behind a lane changer.  Anne silently expressed herself as Bobby related another fact direct from his little brain.  Anne couldn’t believe a brain so young could hold so many facts.  “Did you know that flying is safer than driving a car?”  Bobby chimed out.  Anne sighed, “yes Bobby, I can believe that.”  Anne had forgotten what the traffic was like on this side of town.  The mall display took on a new meaning, just get there safely!

 


     Finally the car was parked and they were approaching the giant mall doors.  Anne stopped and got face to face with Bobby and said, “let’s have a great time, ok? ”Bobby answered with a hug then they walked in together hand in hand.  The mall was huge and somewhere in there was the Silent Flight airshow team with the world’s best paper airplane.  Anne and Bobby walked and talked as they cruised the mall looking for the display.  As they were approaching a corner Bobby was surprised by a paper airplane that just barely missed hitting him.  The plane seemed to be going at super-hyper-speed and Bobby could hear the wings whistling as it whizzed by.  “THIS WAY!!”  Bobby shouted as he pulled his mother around the corner. Once around the corner Bobby froze in his tracks causing Anne to rear-end him.  After a brief moment of awe they both slowly walked towards the display and stood in line.


     Bobby's eyes were fixed on the displayed tow launch vehicle.  Two beautiful custom hang gliders, one high over the cab and the other low off the back.  A big spool of rope was attached to the front bumper and another spool was mounted in the bed of the truck.  Matching paint and shiny chrome, it was sure a pretty set-up.  Bobby couldn't see the pilots yet but the line was moving and those walking away were taking with them a good looking and an excellent flying paper airplane.  Bobby was excited!  Bobby's eyes scanned the room looking for signs of flight when his gaze fell upon a Silent Flight poster.  Both hang gliders were shown flying off the truck at the same time attached to the spools of rope and trailing colored smoke coming from the wing tips.  Bobby knew he liked these people already!  "Hi, who are you?"  Bobby snapped back to reality and turned to meet Dave.  Bobby knew it was Dave because the flight suit had his name on it.  Bobby stuttered out his name and reached out to shake hands.  Bobby had a billion questions but it was time to get down to business and make the world's best paper airplane.  Bobby followed along as Dave showed how to fold the PPP-1 and they talked about how to fly it.  The PPP-1 had rudders, elevators and flaperons, this plane could do anything and Bobby was in a different world.


     Instead of saying thank-you for the paper airplane and walking away like everyone else Bobby stepped to the side and watched as Dave helped make paper planes for everyone who wanted one.  Dave noticed that Bobby was very interested and asked Bobby if he wanted to move to the other side of the table and help some kids his own age make their very first PPP-1.  Dave gave Bobby an airshow hat and not only taught newcomers how to make the PPP-1 but he also helped Bobby learn how to teach the art of folding the world's best paper airplane.  Bobby lost track of time.  He was having so much fun he never wanted it to end.  Bobby looked up to greet his next PPP-1 builder and was surprised to see his mother standing in front of him.  "Hello you paper pilot" Anne cooed, "I think that the time has come to say good-by to your new friends, the mall is closing".  Bobby looked to Dave hoping that some how his mother was wrong about the mall closing.  "She's right Bobby, the mall is closing and we need to pack up and get ready for the airshow tomorrow.  You are coming to see us fly aren't you?" Bobby looked at his mother.  She smiled and nodded.  Bobby turned back to Dave and said "YOU BET!"  Dave reached into a box and pulled out one of the Silent Flight posters and handed it to Bobby.  "Thanks for your help Bobby, we were pretty busy and needed all the help we could get.  You sure did make some good planes.  Your help is welcome anytime."  Bobby was beaming with pride at that complement and Anne was wearing a smile that looked permanent.  As Anne and Bobby were walking away Dave called out after them, "Bobby, do you want to fly with me in the airshow tomorrow?"  Bobby almost flew through the roof without wings when he heard that and responded with a definite "YES!!"  long before Anne had a chance to respond.  Dave looked to Anne; she appeared apprehensive yet somewhat excited.  "It'll be ok,” Dave said…  He continued, "Bobby really helped out tonight and I'd like to treat him to something special."  Anne looked over at the two gliders still perched on the tow unit, the poster showing the launch, and then down to those puppy dog eyes that Bobby knew how to wear so well.  Anne sighed, "you guys are going to be careful, right??"  Bobby and Dave looked at each other, smiled, then turned to Anne and said in unison, "OF COURSE!"  "All right", Anne relented, "but you have to promise to wave to me."  "You got a deal!"  Bobby said.  He then turned back to Dave for a victory high-five.


     Dave reached back into the box he had pulled the poster from and this time pulled out two wristbands.  He handed the Green VIP wristband to Anne and gave the Red performers wristband to Bobby.  "Be sure to wear these or security won't let you in."  Dave explained.  He also told them that early the next morning he would be doing a hot-air balloon drop over the city then landing at the airport.  Anne and Bobby were advised to get to the airport early to beat the traffic and crowds.  Bobby was even invited to help set-up the display.


     Bobby climbed into the car and buckled his seatbelt.  His paper airplane and poster on his lap, his Red performer wristband already on his wrist and his mind was in overdrive looking forward to the next day.  Life couldn't be better, not only was he going to go to an airshow, he was going to fly in it, Wow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Two

 

Airshow Saturday

 

 

 

Bobby woke up before the sun.  Already dressed and eating cereal, he stared at his new paper airplane.  He hadn't flown it much, just a little in the living room before hitting the sack.  He was planning to get a few flights in before heading to the airport.  Bobby quickly rinsed his dish and headed outside.  The morning sun was just waking up and a little light was beginning to show.  Bobby took a couple of running steps and threw the PPP-1 as hard as he could.  The PPP-1 carved a large and smooth loop, levelled out four feet off the ground and stalled gently onto Bobby's outstretched hand.  Bobby was impressed!  This plane had gone higher than any other plane he had thrown and it had done a picture perfect loop along the way.

 

    Bobby turned to throw another perfect loop but lurched to a halt at mid-throw.  There in the sky was a huge hot-air balloon with a hang glider hanging below it.  No more than 300 feet off the ground and right over his house was the Silent Flight glider.  He recognized it from the mall display the night before.  Bobby was startled to hear a voice from above.  "Bobby, is that you?"  It was Dave calling down from the hang glider.  Bobby stood transfixed for a moment then hollered as loud as he could, "YES, ITS MEEEEE!!”It was still very early and Bobby's echoing voice caused a few lights to go on.  Dave called down to Bobby and told him that he didn't have to talk so loud because it was so quiet.  The balloon was drifting very slowly away when Bobby noticed the local radio stations call letters on the side of the balloon, K F L Y, memorizing quickly, Bobby ran for the house 99.7, 99.7, 99.7, spinning the radio dial it centered quickly right on the numbers.  Suddenly Dave's voice filled every room in the house.  Bobby had spun the wrong knob and the volume was at the ear warping level.

 

    Dave was answering a question from a caller live on the radio.  Bobby in his excitement hadn't noticed how loud the radio was nor did he notice his obviously still tired mother walking up behind him.  Bobby sensed a presence and turned quickly.  He recognized the just awake look on his mother and instead of explaining, he knew it would take forever, grabbed his mother's hand and hurried her outside. 

 

     The morning air was still cool; especially since all Anne was wearing was the only nightgown Don had ever given her, and her only one.  Tattered and short, the cold air cut through it.  Anne shivered as she woke up quicker than she wanted.  "Good morning Anne", filtered down through the air.  Anne looked around then glanced in the direction Bobby was looking.  Anne was frozen in awe; she just stared at the hot-air balloon and the slowly rotating hang glider.  The glider rotated a little bit more and Anne could see the face of the pilot.  Bobby announced, "that's DAVE!!"  Just as Anne recognized him.  Suddenly remembering what she was wearing she hollered a loud "GOOD MORNING!",  and hurried inside. 

 

Bobby ran after her and quickly talked her into following the balloon across town and watch the drop.

 

    Dressed and out the door in record time they were headed across town, the balloon in sight and the radio station covering the event blaring so loud that other motorists could hear also.  Bobby was listening to every word and was shocked when he heard his name.  "...  And Bobby Evans, from the city of Oakville, will be flying with me in the opening ceremony.  We will be flying down to the music of the National anthem and at some point, with smoke trailing, we'll do a series of aerobatic maneuvers before landing at stage center".  Bobby couldn't believe his ears.  He was excited and felt proud to have his name on the radio.  He also felt a little fear creeping in.  That aerobatic word kept spinning through his mind and it sounded a little scary.  Bobby decided to trust the pilot and to pay real close attention to everything and was able to push those uneasy thoughts to the back of his mind.


     The balloon was real high now and they were at the airport.  Anne flashed her VIP wristband to the gate guard and was directed to the VIP parking area.  As they got out of the car and looked up they saw a cloud of smoke below the balloon.  It was so thick they couldn't even see the glider.  Silently plummeting out of the smoke in a pure vertical dive, Dave pitched out the bar into a high arcing turn.  The glider drew its path on the blue sky.  It was over to soon, Bobby could have watched for hours and never tire.  Dave landed near where Anne and Bobby were standing and called out, "HI BOBBY, Good to see you" just as his feet touched the ground.  Bobby ran to the glider pulling Anne behind him.  Bobby slowed and reached out to slide his hand along the leading edge of the beautiful glider.

 

  "Hi Anne, good to see you again" greeted Dave.  Anne recalled what she was wearing that morning and blushed just a bit.  Dave spoke quickly as a throng of reporters descended upon them.  Dave told Bobby to meet him at the display in about 10 minutes.  The reporters arrived flushing Anne and Bobby to the rear of the group.


     Bobby and Anne started to move towards the display area and were looking at all the other displays alone the way.  They had only gone a short distance before the first of about 10 reporters ended up surrounding them.  "Bobby, we understand that you will be the passenger on the opening flight", "we heard that you haven't flown before, are you scared?"  "Is it also true that you will be working at the Silent Fight display after the flight?" 

 

 Bobby had never heard so many questions fired off so quickly.  He didn't even know which questions to answer.  Finally after stumbling over his answers the throng diminished and Bobby saw his mother standing aside and smiling, "how's it feel to be famous?" she asked.  "You're going to be in all the newspapers tomorrow and probably on television by the end of the day."  Bobby's day had just begun and it looked like this was going to be a day like he had never had before.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Three

 

The Opening Flight

 

Bobby had been working for hours at the display.  He had helped set-up and was now helping all sorts of people to make their very own PPP-1.  Bobby had lost track of time, teaching people to make paper airplanes was the most fun he had ever had.  Reality began abruptly for Bobby when Dave tapped him on the shoulder and said "LET'S GO!"  Bobby followed Dave towards the launch truck and gliders as if he were in a trance.  Getting ready was a blur... harness check, bungees off, slack out, pressure up, radio check.  Go to cruise!  Time, which had seemed to be going so fast now was in slow motion and climbing at 900 feet per minute.  In no time Bobby and Dave were so high the spectators looked like ants, they could see for miles, the ride was smooth with just a few bumps here and there.

 

 

  Bobby saw the launch truck stop at the end of the runway and watched the towline fall away.  "Get ready, here we go"!  Dave's voice caught Bobby's attention and made him unconsciously tense a bit.  Dave reached out and ignited the smokes.  Then, pulling in on the bar, they dove for speed and performed a series of graceful climbing turns and steep dives.  The high-banked 360 before landing almost got Bobby dizzy.  They had a perfect landing and Bobby looked up to where he had been.  The smoke trails were still hanging in the sky and he was light on his feet.

 

     Bobby remembered reading what Leonardo da Vinci had once said, "for Once you have touched the sky, there you have been, and there you will always long to be".  Bobby smiled to himself, he now understood Leonardo.  The rest of the day was kind of anti-climatic compared to the fact that he, himself, had flown in the opening flight of the airshow. 

   The rest of the show was good though, the Thunderbirds, a big loud bi-plane and a bunch of other stuff.  Bobby's favorite act was when Jessie, Silent Flights lady pilot, released 50 of the world's best paper airplanes from 500 feet over his head.

  The planes flew all over the place and one almost landed by him but was caught by an older and taller person.  Bobby didn't mind though, he had one at home.  Home was where he found himself when he woke up.  He had fallen asleep in the car on the way home and Anne was even able to carry him to his room and put him to bed.  It was 10 p.m.; Bobby woke and found Anne watching the news.

 

     They both watched in silence as the tandem glider carrying Bobby swooped through the skies opening the airshow.  Then Bobby's full face shot with Bobby answering the reporter’s questions.  After the news report was over Anne turned and commented absently, "long day huh?..."  Bobby was already making a peanut butter and jam sandwich but he still agreed that, "YES, this was one long day and thank-you!"


     Bobby sat on the edge of the bed eating his sandwich and holding his own PPP-1, tomorrow they would fly!  Bobby studied his plane intently, elevators-rudders-flaperons, this plane had it all.  Bobby set his plane down, popped the last of his sandwich in his mouth and turned off the light almost all in the same motion.  The sooner to sleep, the sooner to fly!  Bobby didn't notice that he had dripped some jam on the world's best paper airplane, the PPP-1.

 


 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Four

 

Mid-Night Travellers

“ANTS!”

 

 

Bobby was sleeping soundly and the scent of blackberry jam floated in the air, as if it was asking to be noticed. A scouting squad of large picnic ants had picked up the scent and were getting closer to the PPP-1.  The ants’ -navigated the vertical climb of the nightstand quickly and converged on the paper airplane.

 

   They all paused and admired the sleek lines of the PPP-1.  They often spent hours watching Bobby and his friends fly in the front yard.  The ants would sit on the roof gorging on some newfound food and marvelling at some of the scary looking flights and crashes.  An often-heard comment from amongst them was, "sure glad I wasn't on that thing!"  A good flight was rewarded with “Wowww's” of admiration.

 

    They had never seen one up close and now there was one of the best looking paper airplanes they had ever seen right in front of them.  The smell of jam was overwhelming and the ants boarded quickly. 

 

 

The drop of jam was a feast and a half for the group.  There was more than enough for all.  Soon the eating slowed to a stop and the    PPP-1 looked as if it had never suffered a direct jam hit.  Totally pigged out and totally in need of a nap, the squad made their way into the open area between the upper and lower surfaces of the wing.  All ten of them were sound asleep in seconds tucked away soundly in the wings of the PPP-1.


     While the ants dreamed about baseball stadium hotdogs, Bobby dreamed of flying.  Captain of his own specially built PPP-1, he soared the world.  Bobby soared all night until the shrill of the cockpit warning alarm, or was it the wake-up alarm?  It was the wake-up alarm.  The pre-designated time for the day to start.  TIME TO FLY!!!

 


     Bobby's brain kicked into gear immediately and he was soon dressed.  Halfway to the door he turned and went back to the nightstand, quickly retrieving the PPP-1.  The ants abruptly awoke under a positive 4g load as Bobby lifted the plane.  This was followed by 3-g's and some bouncing as Bobby ran to the kitchen.  The ants couldn't figure out what was happening.

    The bravest ant, called Penee because of his size, made his way to the upper surface and peered out.   Just as Penee's head peered over the edge Bobby let loose with a throw. 

 

   All Penee saw was that they were headed straight towards the Wall, destination squish-Ville!  All the ants inside the wing freaked and ran out to the wing tip and caused the PPP-1 to roll right.  Penee heard the tail of the PPP-1 scrape the Wall as he was loaded to over 7 g's in the turn.  The plane continued a high-banked spiral towards the kitchen table.  Sliding on a wingtip, the plane skidded across the table and slammed into the box of breakfast cereal.

 

    The ants remained motionless.  They held on and waited to see what was going to happen.  Nothing happened, it was still and quiet.  Penee looked out again and saw that they were parked right in front of Bobby who was getting ready to have breakfast.

 

    Quickly and quietly Penee made his way back to the others, "Shhhhh!"  No one move, we're parked right in front of him, if we're spotted we're goners!"  All the ants froze when they heard Penee.  They had seen it before...  Being spotted on the kitchen table would lead to a fate that no ant relishes.  A number of things could happen, none of which were pleasant.  Squished with a thumb was probably the worst.  Yet being wiped up with your friends by a sponge was no fairy tale ending either.

 

    Sometimes you would get blown off the table.  This was mostly survivable but definitely not a walk in the park.  It normally went down like this, you're spotted and you know it!  You're putting down a little Pepsi off the top of the bottle.  Now, the bottle is being lifted towards those big human lips and you know what happens next.  A huge blast of wind strong enough to propel you clear across the room where you slam into something and fall to the ground.  There you lay stunned as all your buddies are hurtling through the air and landing with a thud all around you.

 

  Now trapped on the PPP-1 no one moved, no one made a sound, everyone waited...


   Bobby finished eating and without even rinsing his dish he grabbed his plane and headed outside.  The ants, flattened again by the sudden g forces, held on for dear life.  Bobby hadn't even gone five steps before he threw his PPP-1 as hard as he could.  The ants slid to the rear of the plane because of the sudden acceleration forces.

 

    This caused to plane to pitch up into a perfect loop landing softly in the grass.  Bobby ran to the plane. All the ants saw was a big foot about ready to come down on top of them.  Bobby's foot thudded down within inches of the wing and caused the ground to shake.  More g forces and they were off again.  This time all the ants were huddled together at the wing tip forcing the PPP-1 into a high speed barrel roll.  All the ants held each other and closed their eyes.  All except Penee and another called Wise-ant.  They were firmly attached to the upper surface of the wing holding on tight with each one of their 6 feet.

 

    Their eyes were open and they were starting to enjoy the maneuvers.  The plane skidded to a stop after the barrel rolls and Wise-ant told Penee how to reposition all the other ants.  They all got repositioned just in time as Bobby arrived, and, without delay launched the PPP-1.  The PPP-1 accelerated straight up about 100 feet then levelled out and began flying slow flat circles.

 

 

    The air was buoyant from the morning sun and the PPP-1 slowly started getting higher.  Wise-ant and Penee stood on the upper surface and were thoroughly enjoying this early morning climb out.  The other ants were still hunched over in their takeoff position with their eyes closed preparing for the impact normally Associated with a flight…

     The impact didn't come, and, one at a time, they slowly opened their eyes.  The ride was smooth and the Earth was falling away fast.


     Bobby was astounded, he had never had a plane that climbed out and disappeared.  He ran in the house to get his mother to witness the flight.  She was still half asleep and moved to slowly.  By the time she got outside the PPP-1 was nowhere to be seen.  Anne believed Bobby's story and comforted Bobby on the loss of his plane.  Even though Bobby was disappointed at the loss, he was very pleased to have started the PPP-1 on its soaring journey.
 

  

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Five

 

 

The First Cross Country Flight

or

HOW DO YOU FLY THIS THING!!!

 

 

     The PPP-1 had been climbing for over an hour and was cruising through 15,000 feet above sea level.  The ants were starting to get braver and move about the plane; some were even hanging their heads over the edge looking down.  This was causing the PPP-1 to rock and roll a bit. 

 

   Wise-ant saw what was happening and decided to try a test.  "Everyone moved to the nose!"  He yelled.  All the ants hustled to the nose and the plane entered a steep dive.  Wise-ant ordered half of the ants to move to the rear and the plane pitched up into level flight.  Wise-ant spoke loudly so they all would be able to hear, "you must follow these directions precisely, those of you at the front will move to the rear, when the plane gets real slow I want all of you to run to the nose, Count 5 seconds then run to the rear and hold on.  After we go upside-down I want you all to move to where I'm standing, understand?...” Wise-ant made eye contact with his new crew and ordered "GO NOW!!!" 

 

   The plane responded just like Wise-ant had said it would, after a perfect loop they all met Wise-ant standing at the center of gravity.  The plane resumed level flight and Wise-ant spoke "I have good news and better news!"  He paused then continued, "the good news is that I know how to fly and land this plane..., the better news is that we can go wherever we want to go!" The end of his announcement came sooner than expected, (Wise-ant often rattled on and on), and left a blanket of silence.  Then voices were heard, "you mean we could fly to a baseball stadium and have hotdogs?"  "We can go scout picnics from the air?"  "We can fly aerobatic all day long?""Visit our relatives?"...  All the ants were excited now, talking wildly about where they wanted to go.  Their decision was made for them when Wise-ant announced that they would just fly downwind for a while and see if anything appealing appeared below them.

 

    The ants took up observer positions around the wings as Wise-ant and Penee navigated from on top of the upper surface at the nose.  "Home, 2 o'clock low!"  Was heard coming from the starboard side.  Everybody ran to look and the PPP-1 fell off into a diving spiral.  Wise-ant gave the command to "CENTER UP!!"  And soon the PPP-1 was back into the level flight mode.  "No-one move, I'll check this spotting out and advise of what I find. "NOBODY MOVE!"

 

    Wise-ant had taken command and went to look.  What he saw was what looked to be the largest ant Hill he had ever seen or even heard of.  A huge dome with a hole in the top.  He knew it wasn't their home but it was probably some relatives since they had trillions of them.

 

    Wise-ant advised the crew and they decided to land and visit.  Acro ant asked Wise-ant if he could take command during the descent since the goal was to lose some altitude quickly.  Wise-ant agreed and Acro huddled the crew and gave the orders.  "Ready, split right...  NOW!"  The plane fell off to the right and dove for speed, 50% pitch back,..  Now roll left!"  The plane dove out of the sky doing some aerobatic maneuvers never before seen.  Acro carried the 'batics real low and when he finally leveled out the plane they were about 300 feet over the opening of an absolutely huge dome.  All the ants peered over the side.  No ants that they knew lived in something like this.  It dawned on everybody at once, it was a baseball stadium.  The chant "HOTDOGS, HOTDOGS, HOTDOGS" had started and was getting louder.  Wise-ant immediately took command "70% dive, left roll..  NOW!......  Roll right...  Hold it...  To the rear now!!  The PPP-1 plopped to a perfect landing atop the steel girders holding up the dome.  From this observation point the ants could see everything. 

 

    They saw from the large screen scoreboard that it was the seventh inning stretch and the Giants were playing Dodgers in a tie game.  The ants loved baseball at home on television.  With all the inattentive eating going on, there were plenty of crumbs for everyone.  The ants had only heard rumors about being at a live game, rumors about billions of hotdogs.  Suddenly the large screen flicked to a different picture.  The ants were puzzled for a moment until they recognized themselves.  A cameraman had seen them land and got the whole landing on tape.  The crowd was going wild cheering the landing of the Plane.  The ants were scared, they had been spotted!  

  

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Six

 

 PPP-1 Live On National TV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Bobby was watching the Giant/Dodger game at home on TV when the view of his PPP-1 appeared on the screen.  It seemed bigger than life has it took up the whole picture.  Bobby could even read his name on the fuselage.  He had put his name on it the night before in case he lost it.  The PPP-1 wasn’t lost anymore but it would not be an easy retrieve.

 

 

    The stadium was over 50 miles away and people were already starting to throw things at the PPP-1 in order to dislodge it.  Bobby watched with the rest of the world as the PPP-1 seemed to magically plummet from the beam.  The camera followed the plane with a close-up shot.  Bobby thought he could see ants running all over the wings as the plane dove and looped towards the ground.  To the worlds surprise the plane levelled out and landed on a railing high in the upper seats.


     Wise-ant had ordered the maneuver, spotting a piece of hotdog on the railing; he had directed a landing right next to it.  The other ants were hurrying to load the soon to be feast as a large group of people who had seen the landing ran towards the PPP-1.

 

    The ants were working fast but the crowd was faster.  They had just loaded the hotdog when someone grabbed the plane.  The ants had seen that there was two people leading the pack; one was weird looking and wore thick glasses and the other was your basic nice looking person.

 

    The ants were hoping that if they were going to be caught the nice looking guy would catch them.  They were briefly relieved when the nice looking kid picked up the plane, but that disintegrated quickly as the kid threw the plane straight into a wall.  The ants were stunned, they watched in horror as the weird looking kid picked up the PPP-1.

 

    The ants were surprised when the kid re-creased the wings and straightened the nose where it had crumpled with the Wall collision.


     Still staring at the TV, Bobby watched as the weird looking kid re-launched the PPP-1 high into the stadium air.

 

    Wise-ant quickly barked commands and soon they had worked the lift out of the stadium.  Centered in the rising thermal the ants gathered at the center of gravity and were feasting on baseball stadium hotdog while drifting downwind oblivious to the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Seven

 Bobby on National Television

 

 

 

     Bobby's mother got off the phone, "I just talked to my friend down at the television station and I told him about your plane in the stadium and he wants to come over to talk to you about how it felt to see your plane on TV”, she told Bobby. Bobby was sitting at the kitchen table reading the morning newspaper; actually, he was looking at his picture, HIM, flying through the air on a hang glider opening the airshow, in color!  Bobby looked at his mother and let loose with an astonished, "Wowwwwwwww, the paper in the morning and the television at night, I'll be famous!"

 

   "Bobby, how did you make your paper airplane fly that far?” Anne seriously inquired.  Bobby shrugged his shoulders as he said, "I don't know.  It was kind of strange.  The plane seemed to fly itself.  Normally when you throw it, it just flies the same pattern until you change the flight settings.

 

    This time it did a lot of different things that require different flight settings."  Anne was listening intently and after pausing for a thought, commented, "maybe Dave from the airshow would know what would cause your plane to fly like that, want me to call him?"

 

    Bobby thought that was an excellent idea so Anne went to her bedroom and made the call.

 

     The reporter arrived at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon, in time for the story to make the evening news.  He was in the middle of the who, what, where, why, and when questions when there was a knock at the door.  Anne moved quickly to the door and let Dave in.

 

    Bobby was surprised to see Dave and started to excitedly tell of his flight.  The reporter luckily knew shorthand yet barely kept up with Bobby.

        

      After the end of Bobby's story and a couple of reporter questions it fell silent and everyone looked to Dave, the expert, for an explanation.

 

    "I saw the game, I saw the close-up of the paper airplane, and I know what happened."  Dave was speaking directly at the camera then turned to Bobby, "that was a wonderful flight but I don't think you can take all the credit for it, there were some ants flying your paper airplane."  The silence in the room was interrupted by the reporter’s chuckle.  Dave turned to the reporter and told him that if he felt it was so funny then he should go review the videotape before he made an absolute fool of himself.  The reporter put on a different face and got down to some serious questions. 

 

    "How do those ants steer the plane?"  Dave told him about how shifting your weight side to side and back and forth would be all that's necessary to control flight and that if the video tape were analyzed we would see the ants moving all over the plane going where they wanted to go.  The reporter knew he was on to a story and asked, "do you think there will be other spottings of that plane?"  "I know there will be."  Dave responded as a matter of factly.

 

   "And", he continued, "I am prepared, with Bobby's help, to go retrieve that paper airplane while in flight."  Anne wasn't as surprised as Bobby; she had talked to Dave earlier and knew that they both would soon be starting an adventure like no other.  They all would be driving cross-country after the paper airplane.

 

    When they located it she was to drive the tow unit and launch Bobby and Dave Tandem and they would fly after the PPP-1 and catch it.

 

    Bobby looked to Anne to see if it would be ok to go but he sensed what had happened and just started to hoot&holler!  Dave told the reporter that this story needed to go out nation wide.

 

   The more people looking for the plane, the better chance catching it.  The reporter was already going for the phone to hold the number one slot on the news.  Soon, after a few more questions Dave, Bobby and Anne were alone.

 

   "I'm ready,” piped Anne.  Bobby suddenly felt overloaded and rushed.  He had to pack, call his friends, feed his fish, and write a note to his dad and about a billion other things.  Anne laughed, seeing Bobby's confused, -what do I do now look, said "let's go, I've packed for you already."  Out the door, in the truck and down the road, they were on the way.

 

      Dave, Anne and Bobby watched themselves on the news that night from a motel room 150 miles south of where the PPP-1 was seen last.  They laughed at how they looked on TV and watched in silent astonishment has the TV screen zoomed in on the PPP-1 flying at the baseball stadium.  Ten large picnic ants were running all over the PPP-1 and performed some beautiful aerobatic routines.

 

    Another camera angle just located showed the ants utilizing teamwork to load a piece of hot dog onto the plane.  Dave said that he felt the ants would have re-launched the plane themselves if that one kid hadn't gotten there first.  The camera followed the plane right out of the stadium until it finely disappeared.  The lights went out, the Chase was on, and Bobby couldn't sleep!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Eight

 

Night Landing

 

 

 

 

     The Ants had been gliding for hours.  The hotdog was gone and all the ants were full and sleepy.  They were spread out all over the wings resting and enjoying the Silent Flight.  The plane was flying well and rocking just ever so slightly.  The twilight sun felt good, warming them and casting long shadows from their short bodies.

 

    Their peace and quiet was abruptly disturbed as a high-speed owl buzzed the PPP-1 and pulled up into a vertical climb out that seemed to go forever. 

 

    The PPP-1 shook from the wake turbulence caused by the owl.  The ants were again holding on for dear life and staring straight up at the little speck that was the owl.  Penee was the first to notice that the owl seemed to be getting bigger and bigger.  "Hold on he's coming back!"  Screamed Penee.  The ants scrambled for cover while Penee stood transfixed by the dive-bombing owl.  The owl was getting closer and closer.  Penee could hear the whistle of wind coming from the Owls wings and impact seemed imminent.

 

 

    Penee braced and watched the owl pull up into a perfect loop then fly alongside the PPP-1 matching the speed of the paper airplane exactly.  Penee and the owl were now wing-tip-to-wing-tip, face to face and eye to eye high above the ground in the darkening sky.  "Whooooooo...  Whooooooo...  Who are you?"  The owl rhymed, his hooked beak seemingly smiling.

 

     Penee was stunned and was only able to stare at the flying poet.  All the other ants were slowly starting to come out of hiding to stand behind Penee; they couldn't believe what they were seeing.  Penee was coming out of shock and his bravery started to take over.  He answered in his most confident tone, "we are the world famous flying ants, and we’ve been on national television!"

 

   The Owls eyes opened even bigger than they already were and said sarcastically, "ohhhh, I seeeee, national TV, I am pleezed to meet you!" 

 

 

    The PPP-1 and the owl buffeted slightly in some mild turbulence and the owl's facial expression took on a serious look, "you guys know how to fly?"  "Of course!"  Bragged Penee.

 

    All the other ants whispered amongst themselves trying to convince each other that, YES, they did know how to fly.  Wise ant came forward and walked right out to the wing tip and asked, "Mr. Owl Sir, why do you ask if we know how to fly when it's so obvious that since we are up here, flying, that we must know something about flight."  "Good point Mr. ant!"  The Owl spoke slowly and continued, "the reason I ask is that we are way up here flying in the extended twilight, while its now dark down on the ground.

 

     By the way that's where your going, notice we're getting closer?"  The ants hadn't been paying attention to where they were going and were shocked at what they heard.

 

    They all ran to the wing tip and peered down into the darkness causing the PPP-1 to enter a steep diving spiral, straight at the darkening Earth.  "Center up!  Center up!  Center up!"  Wise ant was yelling as loud as he could to be heard over the deafening roar of the high-speed wind.

 

    The ants could barely see each other now as they huddled at the center of gravity.  The PPP-1 now level but low, and it was going to be landing soon, like it or not!  The owl fell into formation again and this time he spoke quickly and seriously, "brace yourselves inside the wing, I'll land you safely but hold on!"

 

    The ants scrambled for cover just as the owl's clawed feet gently attached themselves to the PPP-1.  Within seconds the owl banked sharply loading the ants to 5 g's and then abruptly stopped depositing the PPP-1 on the barn roof.  30 pairs of wobbly legs brought the ants off the plane unto the barn roof.

 

     They had been in the air so long they'd lost their land legs and were having trouble adjusted; the last 5 G. turn didn't help much either.  The owl was perched patiently nearby and waited for them all to gather.  Mr. Owl then addressed the group, "welcome to Farmer Johns barn.  Find something to eat, get some sleep then in the morning we'll talk flying and get you on your way again."

 

    The ants were relieved to be where they were and started to relax.  Mr. Owl silently flew into the darkness leaving the ants to spend the night on the barn roof.  One by one the ants climbed back on board the PPP-1 and drifted off to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Nine

The Morning After

 

 

 

 

     Mr. Owl woke the ants with a high-speed pass that rocked the PPP-1. Penee was already awake and saw him coming, fast and low.

 

     Penee marvelled at the owl's complete mastery of flight and wanted to learn as much as he could.  Soon all the ants were gathered in front of Mr. Owl.  Penee counted heads, Penee counted heads again and came up with the same number, one short!  A quick roll call revealed that Acro ant was missing.  All the ants started calling for Acro as they searched the PPP-1 and the surrounding area.  Hearing his name called, Acro slid down Mr. Owl's leg and stumbled toward the group.  Acro was mumbling something over and over incoherently.

 

      Everyone was quiet and listening then finally they made out what Acro was saying, one word, that's all, just one word over and over, "Wowwwwwwww, Wowwwwwwww, Wowwwwwwww!!!"  The ants could not figure out what had happened.

 

     Slowly Acro regained his voice enough to explain that he had stowed away on the owl and had been flying with him all night.  Acro was still excited from flying all night and even though he was tired he sat right in front to hear everything that Mr. Owl was going to teach them.

 

     Acro started the instructional session by telling Mr. Owl that he was sorry for stowing away but that he enjoyed flying with him very much especially after watching him fly the day before.  Acro ended with, "teach me how you do the split S maneuver pleeezzee!"

 

            Mr. Owl slowly looked over the group and started eye saying, "flying takes a lifetime to master, there's always something new to learn. 

 

     Flying requires good judgment, maturity and responsibility even though your paper airplane would not demolish a city block if you crashed, it would demolish you.  When you fly you must take care of yourself.  Flying can be a lot of fun, enjoyable and even safe, but you need to pay attention.  This morning we'll talk flying, however, we can't cover it all so always be open to learning new things."

 

     Mr. Owl went on and on...  He talked of thermals, rising parcels of warm air, and sink, falling parcels of cold air.  He explained about how ridge lift is created when the wind blows at a hill and how the hill causes the air to rise upwards.  He talked of turbulence and lee side rotors, and then finally talked about aerobatics.

 

     Acro had been only partially listening until the word ‘ aerobatics’ was mentioned, then he was all ears.

 

   Acro started to ask question after questioned; loops, flat spins, wing overs, high speed spirals, hammerheads, tail slides and of course the all mighty split S.  Mr. Owl answered all the questions well but suddenly ended the session with the statement, "I think it's about time for you guys to launch."

 

    The ants had been paying attention to Mr. Owl and hadn't noticed the thermal activity start up.  Even though straw and dust were being lifted high into the sky the ants had been listening intently to the owl and were oblivious to what was going on around them.  All the ants turned towards the plane and were surprised to see a spider at the back of the group who was also listening to the lecture.

 

    The ants froze in terror!  Spiders had always been the threat to the ants and now they were face to face with one of the biggest they had ever seen.

 

    The spider sensed their fear and was quick to speak, "don't be afraid, I won't hurt you.  I saw you guys fly in last night and I've been listening to Mr. Owl talk about flying.  I'd love to come with you!  I've always wanted to fly!"  "Wellll...” Started Wise ant. 

 

     The spider interrupted and said that he would be very helpful, he was able to make a very strong web and that he would be their friend forever.  Wise ant looked to the group for some guidance but Mr. Owl was the one who spoke, "I have known this spider for a long time, he is a good spider and he would be very helpful on your journey.  His name is Speck and I recommend him highly."  "That's good enough for me!"  Said Wise ant as he looked to the rest of the group. 

 

     They all nodded in skeptical agreement as they gathered on the plane. 

 

    Penee, Wiseant and Acro took their position on the upper surface at the nose.  Speck positioned himself at the center of gravity and, with his web, anchored himself firmly.  All the other ants were at the trailing edge ready to push the PPP-1 down the sloped roof for the launch.

            Mr. Owl was perched at the top of the roof watching.  Wise-ant ordered the push crew to be ready. 

 

     Wiseant was watching for the next barnyard thermal to launch into.  It was quiet and they all waited.  "HERE IT COMES!!!"  Mr. Owl called out.  Wise-ant had seen the thermal at the same time.  The small swirling mass  of dust, leaves and straw.  The small dust devil was growing rapidly and Wise-ant counted down, “3..., 2..., 1 GO-GO GO!!!" 

 

    The pusher ants all pushed the PPP-1 down the roof.  The PPP-1 was picking up speed fast and all the pushers jumped on and centered up waiting for the next command. 

 

   The PPP-1 slid down the roof picking up speed; the swirling dust devil was straight-ahead and spinning wildly.  The PPP-1 lifted clear of the roof, 1 inch, then two, they were flying!  Heading straight at the spinning mass of rising air, Wise-ant yelled "HOLD ON!"  The PPP-1 hit the dust devil head on and pitched up wildly as it rolled to the inverted.  "ROLL RIGHT-CENTER UP-NOSE DOWN..." 

 

     Wise-ant was barking the orders as fast as he could.  Soon the PPP-1 was real high in the smoother and stronger lift.  They were leaving the Earth behind at a rapid pace.  Wise-ant turned to look back at his accomplished crew and saw that speck and Acro were gone, probably thrown off when the plane rolled to the inverted. 

 

     The PPP-1 was flying a little funny: Wise-ant needed all the ants up front to keep the nose down.  "Everyone to the nose" Wise-ant ordered.  When the plane was again stable, Wise-ant made his way to the trailing edge and looked down.  He couldn't believe what he was seeing. 

 

     Speck was making his way back up the web he had spun when he jumped off to catch Acro who had fallen.  Acro was sitting on Speck's back cheering him on. 

 

     In no time speck and Acro boarded and all the ants converged at the center of gravity swarming all over Speck offering their congratulations, Speck was a real hero, a definite friend. 

 

    The PPP-1 climbed higher and higher as it drifted downwind. 

 

    Another journey had started, a little scary at first, but now they were under way, destination unknown...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Ten

 

The Sky Divers

 

 

 

 

 

     The Ants had been cruising for hours. They were now at about 13, 000 feet M. S. L. and only slightly hypoxic; sun bathing all over the wings; just lying on their backs and relaxing.  All the ants saw the big military C-5 cargo plane flying overhead at the same time.  They all watched with casual interest as it flew 5000 ft. above them. 

 

     Penee was the first to notice that a lot of things seemed to be falling out the back of the big C-5 and brought it to everyone's attention.  About 250 little dots were trailing out of the back of the plane and they all wondered what was happening.  Slowly the dots got bigger and bigger, closer and closer. 

 

 

    Wise-ant was the one who put 2 & 2 together and came up with 4.  The objects coming from the big C-5 were skydivers.  The ants were excited, they had only seen sky diving on television and now they were going to get their own private show.  The ants watched in anticipation waiting for the colorful canopies to pop open.  What the ants didn't realize was that a high-low was in progress.  A high altitude jump with a low attitude chute deployment. 

 

     The little dots were now even closer and the ants could make out the shape of the plummeting human forms.  They had never seen sky diving from this prospective before, and, forgetting that they themselves were at over 13,000 ft., felt that the skydivers were getting kinda low before opening their chutes. 

 

     The ant’s amazement changed quickly to terror, as the lead skydiver got real big real quick and blasted by them nearly hitting the PPP-1.  The wake left by the skydiver rocked the PPP-1 making the ants hold on tight. 

    

     The second skydiver shot past even closer than the first, his outstretched hand just missing the PPP-1.  This near hit brought the seriousness of the situation to light.  Two down, 248 sky divers to go.  The ants were definitely flying in the danger zone! 

 

     The raining skydivers all seemed to be aiming for the PPP-1.  The loud whoosh of each near hit was interrupting the serenity of the now extinct silent and peaceful flight. 

 

     The ant’s terror turned to horror as a skydiver and clipped the nose of the PPP-1 causing an abrupt gut wrenching tuck and tumble.  The built in stability of the PPP-1 allowed the plane to right itself immediately. 

 

     Wise-ant knew they had to do something; the skydivers were coming fast and furious.  "Acro, get us out of here!!!"  Wise-ant was screaming as loud as he could.  Acro jumped into action even before Wise-ant's screaming order died in the wind. 

 

     Acro positioned himself at the center of gravity and issued orders in rapid fire, "to the nose, dive, dive, dive!"  The PPP-1's nose dropped through the horizon and quickly accelerated matching the sky divers free fall speed exactly. 

 

    Penee was at the trailing edge looking up.  Penee was face to face with one of the skydivers.  Time seemed to stop, except for the deafening roar of the high-speed wind trying to dislodge the ants from the wing. 

 

     Speck shot some webbing all over the upper surface for the ants to hang onto.  Penee saw the sky divers hand reach out for them.  It was so close that Penee could see the dirt under the fingernails of the pursuer. 

 

     "A-C-R-O!!"  Penee yelled over the roar of the wind.  Acro looked back and placed his order, "roll right, pitch-up, hold it, and roll left, to the nose now!!!" 

 

     The PPP-1's loaded to 9 g's as it pitched up into a screaming wing-over and finished off with a diving left spiral.  The skydiver shot right past them, Acro's skills had averted this possible catastrophe but there were still over 200 to go. 

 

     The PPP-1 was diving towards the Earth burning the altitude as if there were no tomorrow.  There would be no tomorrow if they got nailed by one of those plummeting humanoids. 

 

     Even though the PPP-1 was in a pure vertical dive, Acro was issuing small course corrections to keep a safe separation from the skydivers.  The ants, now under control and fairly safe, were starting to have fun.  Their PPP-1 could out maneuver these guys with no problem. 

 

     All the ants were looking off to the side and making faces at one of the skydivers who was trying to track towards them.  No one on the plane was watching where they were going except for Speck; he was terrified of high speed plummeting. 

 

     Even though Speck was actively pursuing a death grip on the plane, he was enjoying the sudden blossom of colorful parachutes going on far below him.  More and more chutes were popping open.  With the Earth as a backdrop, the opening chutes took on the appearance of budding wild flowers.  They were also getting bigger and bigger as the PPP-1 continued its plummet...

            The radio crackled in Sgt. Palmer's ear, "we missed them Sarge!"  The Sergeant was direct and to the point, "there are over 250 of you guys out there, we've been ordered to get that plane.  You guys are driving the finest RAM air chutes ever made and if you can't catch a paper airplane then “WE” got problems-don't we...”

 

     Sgt. Palmer had been watching from the C-5; peering down from the rear ramp.  Wearing his parachute; watching with binoculars; he was commanding operation ‘ANTE-UP’ with his walkie-talkie.  Sgt. Palmer was ready to go if he had to. 

 

     There was no radio response pertaining to his order, however, the sudden and erratic movement from below confirmed acknowledgment.

 

       Speck thought the chutes were getting bigger and prettier, they seemed to be drawing patterns in the air.  The chutes also seemed to be converging on a spot directly below the PPP-1.  The wind noise was deafening and Speck watched the colorful chutes get bigger and bigger.  All Speck could do was yell "LOOK-OUT!!!"  And brace for impact as the PPP-1 bounced off the first chute it encountered.  The PPP-1 had clipped the edge of the Skydivers chute and ricocheted wildly out of control.  The pursuing Skydiver shot past them and impacted the chute they had just bounced off of.  This stimulated a failure of the canopies and both Skydivers re-accelerated to terminal falling velocity. 

 

     It seemed like minutes but it was only seconds before the bad chutes were cut away and two new reserve canopies popped open with a loud crack. 

 

     The ants were relieved to see that the Skydivers were going to be all right.  They were having fun now and didn't want to see anyone hurt.  The sky above and below them was now full of slow moving parachutes and the ants took on the challenge with their high performance PPP-1. 

 

     It soon turned into a slalom course on the vertical plane as the ants wove through the colorful pylons.  Diving, rolling and looping they were having the time of their life.

 

       Sgt. Palmer watched from above as the PPP-1 made his crew look like fools.  The ants were playing games with his man and he didn't like it.  Sgt. Palmer dove out of the big C-5 and assumed the ballistic mode, straight down, headfirst. 

 

     His speed was well over 200 mph as he took on the PPP-1.  His teeth were clenched tight, not because of the high wind, but, because he was angry.  The other Skydivers were all starting to land and were dismayed to see their sergeant delaying his opening for so long.  The ants were working the light above the grounded Skydivers, laughing at them and totally unaware of the gravity induced missile aiming for the PPP-1. 

 

     Sgt. Palmer was seconds from impacting the ants and their beloved PPP-1 when Acro glanced up and saw doom approaching faster than fast.  Acro didn't even have time to warn the others, all he could do was run to the wing tip the PPP-1 and try to roll the plane out of the way. 

 

     The near miss and sudden rolling of the PPP-1 took the others by surprise.  Mixed with the scream of anger from the 200 mph Sgt. Palmer and the loud crack of the opening chute right next to the PPP-1 almost caused all the hearts on board the PPP-1 to stop. 

 

     The shock wave from the popping chute made the PPP-1 tumble radically out of control.  All the ants could do was hold on and hope that the self-righting characteristics of the PPP-1 would occur before they met the ground in person. 

 

     Sgt. Palmer was on the ground cursing his troops and the PPP-1 resumed level flight at 300 feet above them.  Wise-ant knew that they couldn't land, and had to stay in the air.  The lift was there but it was zero-zero, no up, no down. 

 

     The PPP-1 was now at only 50 feet above the earthbound Skydivers, scratching to stay up and hoping the wind drift would guide them to safety. 

 

     The Skydivers had abandoned their equipment and were following the scratching PPP-1 on foot, preparing for the capture.  The ants had drifted for miles yet the troops were still below them, just waiting. 

 

     Sgt. Palmer had told his men that what goes up must come down, but he had never seen the ants skillfully fly the world's best paper airplane. 

 

     Darkness was approaching and the troops were tiring.  Wise-ant had to do something to avoid capture.  In the dwindling twilight Wise-ant spotted a steep canyon off the left wing.  Heavily forested with a raging river at the bottom, it was a perfect place to lose the pursuing troops.  "Roll left...  Dive N-O-W!!"  Wise-ant ordered.  His crew responded immediately and the PPP-1 dove through the treetops aiming for the river. 

 

     It was even darker than before and the noise of the paper airplane destroying water was getting louder and louder by the second. 

 

     Encountering the light spray of mist Wise-ant could only call out his final order, "roll right and hold on!!!"  The flying stopped, it was very dark and the ants didn't move a muscle.  If you were there with them all you would hear were sighs of relief and tiny heart beats still going very fast.

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Eleven

 

STUCK!!!

 

 

 

 

     The ants had been on the ground for hours.  The night had been cold and they couldn't sleep well.  There were a lot of new night noises that had kept them awake.  Some of the younger ants had been very frightened, even down right scared! 

 

 

     Wise-ant spent the night awake with the scared ones helping them through this new experience.  Wise-ant related story after story about scary things that he had been involved with. 

 

     He also pointed out that even though the younger ants were now scared of the darkness and new night noises, they had performed extremely well on this journey and had excelled in the joint teamwork that had been necessary to fly the PPP-1 to its limits in order to save, not only themselves, but all the others involved in the adventure.  The younger ants soon forgot about being scared as they told their own stories back and forth to each other. 

 

     Wise-ant half dozed as he listened to the recent adventures that he to had just been through and was proud to be associated with this group. 

 

     He to had been scared, but he knew that being scared his a normal thing and that it had helped him make some of the hard decisions that were required of him. It wasn't long before everybody was sound asleep, huddled for warmth on the wings of the old faithful PPP-1, awaiting a new day; a new flight; a new adventure. 

 

     Everyone was awake with the first rays of the sun.  They had thumped him very late last night, it had been dark and all they did was hold on as the PPP-1 came to an abrupt stop.  Now they could see where they were,

 

tall Grass, flat ground with tall trees surrounding them; they were stuck!  They needed to get back in the air but there was nowhere to re-launch from. 

 

     Wise-ant called a meeting of the minds to figure a way out of this predicament.  Of course during the first stages of a problem solving session the ridiculous plans came first; "build some rocket Motors" called out the youngest, yet most creative ant.  "Attach the PPP-1 to the top of a small tree, wait for it to grow then launch from there" sang out another. 

 

     Wise-ant listened patiently knowing that a plan would soon evolve with all these minds working together.  Speck was the one that started the thinking to go in the right direction, "tow launch", was all he said quietly. 

 

     Speck was still shy around the group and had hesitated for quite a while before he uttered those words.  The group fell silent for a moment taking in what Speck had just said. 

 

     The excitement soon raged through all.  It was decided that Speck would spin one of his best webs to be used for the towline and the hero-to-be got started.  Several hours later Speck had fabricated one of his finest strands of web about 30 feet long and even though it was almost invisible, it was the strongest he had ever made. 

 

     The thermal hour was approaching and the ants jumped into action.  If they were going to fly out of this mess they had to hurry. 

 

    With one end of the web firmly attached to the nose of the PPP-1, the ants worked together and pulled the web line tight.  The ants still had a small piece of hot dog bun left over and after considerable struggling they had moved it into position.  Speck went to work again and attached his web to the hot dog bun then ran as fast as he could back to the PPP-1.  The launch could happen anytime now and it was critical that all passengers were on board and prepared for flight. 

 

     The atmosphere on board the PPP-1 was tense, no one spoke, they all just held on and waited.

 

          All eyes were on the piece of hot dog bun, the bait.  Silence turned to soft moans of disappointment as they all watched a small tweedy bird flit down, landing next to the bun.  They all knew that the small bird didn't have the strength to pull the PPP-1 high into the sky.  They all watched in disbelief as the small bird started pecking at the bun bait.  If that little bird ate the bait then it was back to the drawing board. 

 

     With all eyes on the little bird and the bait, no one saw the crow coming in hot and low from behind them.  Buzzing the PPP-1, the loud whistle of wind through feathers was deafening as the crow dove on the little bird with the bait. 

 

     All the ants watched in awe as the small bird barely got out of the way of the crow, who picked up the bait without even slowing down. 

 

    The sudden 'g' loading took the ants by surprise as they all started sliding off the back of the plane even though they were holding on.  Speck seeing and feeling what was happening shot some restraining web all over the wings saving the ants from being thrown off the plane. 

 

     The PPP-1 rocketed into the sky being towed unknowingly by the crow.

 

  The PPP-1 was out of control in a high-speed barrel roll!  Wise-ant, resisting the 'g' forces called out the flight commands to stabilize the rolling PPP-1 and the crew responded. 

 

     Now in level flight and climbing Wise-ant told Speck to be ready to sever the towline.  Wise-ant had no idea where the crow was going to take them but he knew that they had to milk as much altitude out of this tow as possible. 

 

 

     At only 150 feet above the ground Wise-ant felt the familiar bump of a small but powerful thermal.  "Now Speck, NOW!!"  Yelled Wise-ant.  Speck instantly severed the line and the plane stalled, falling off to the left in a dive. 

 

     Wise-ant's orders flew like Bullets from a machine gun, "roll right; nose down; full flaps; left rudder...!"  Soon the plane was stabilized in a high-banked turn, Centered in the thermal and going up fast!  The higher they got the bigger the thermal became. 

 

     Now, again way high in the sky the bank angle reduced and the Earth getting small, the ants had a chance to relax.  Speck breathed a sigh of relief and was taken by surprise when all the ants started chanting, "Speck-Speck-Speck...” He had become the hero for the day and was made an honorary ant by the group.  Speck had found a home; he had the most important thing in the world, FRIENDS WHO CARED!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Twelve

 

Balloon Buzzing

 

 

 

 

 

      The ants had been in the air all night long.  It had been a very beautiful and relaxing night, lying on the wings at 25,000 ft., the night stars brighter than bright and the smoothest buoyant air ever experienced by anyone who had ever flown. 

 

     It was coming on daybreak and the ants saw the sunrise before anyone living within 1000 miles of them.  The sun was big and orange as it rose higher into the sky; the face of the earth was still as black as the night that the ants had just finished enjoying.

 

       Daybreak brought new sites and sounds as the ants flew at just above stall; hardly any wind noise and the sounds of the waking world drifting up to them. Two things broke the silence at once, the quiet roar of something down on earth and Acro saying that he was hungry.  A quick consensus showed that all the ants were indeed hungry. 

 

    Also, it was noticed that the continuing roar from below was getting louder and closer.  It was time for action and the ants were ready.  They all peered over the sides of the PPP-1 to civilization camped far beneath them.  Down there lived danger and food. 

 

     Living without danger they could do, but, living without food they hadn't mastered yet.  A plan to land had been made yet where to land was still the question.  They had to land somewhere that would be easy to relaunch from and also they needed to land near food.  They slowly descended in the cool morning air towards a green Valley.

 

     Acro was driving and the others were relaxing and enjoying just being world famous ant pilots.  The smell of maple syrup and the loudest roar from below arrived together causing an adrenalin rush that tingled all their senses at once. 

 

     Locating the rising hot air balloon calmed all senses but one, they could deal with a hot air balloon, but, the sweet smell of maple syrup kept their taste buds working overtime.  It was time for food and fun and not in that order. 

 

     The first goal was to play with the hot air balloons and then land near the balloonist's pancake breakfast and chow down.  Before taking on the balloon Wise-ant picked out a landing spot near the food that allowed for an easy relaunch, a tall tree overlooking the griddle. 

 

     They would top land in the tree and sneak down to share the morning picnic.  There were now five balloons in the air at varying altitudes and the ants would take on each one on the way down. 

 

     What a way to build their already huge appetite.  The ants huddled at the center of gravity and made the plan.  Acro would be in charge of the balloon buzzing and Wise-ant would take over for the landing.  Speck would be in charge of securing the PPP-1 to the treetop and be ready to initiate the relaunch. 

 

     The fun began with Acro calling out the dive order.  Mach speed was attained in seconds, diving on the first balloon.  The high-speed pass took the balloonist's by surprise.  Acro had come from the balloonist's blind spot and passed between the faces of the passengers. 

 

     Acro pulled up into a 90-degree wingover and slowly circled the basket as the other ants were rolling with laughter at these floating humans who were hopelessly suspended high above the ground. 

 

     Now diving on the second balloon the ants were unaware that their first target had radioed the other balloons; they were ready to greet the PPP-1 in a way that would be unpleasant!  Acro was going for the same maneuver that had worked before. 

 

     Only one pilot occupied the second balloon and Acro was diving on his face.  Penee was riding lookout at the nose of the PPP-1 and was shocked to see three other people suddenly stand and outstretched their arms trying to catch the plane. 

 

     Acro had committed the PPP-1 in its dive and all they could do was hold on and watch in horror as the PPP-1 took them towards disaster.  The ants closed their eyes and held on waiting for the impact.  The ants heard the flailing of arms as they blasted through the basket area.  NO IMPACT! all the flailing arms and outstretched hands had missed them. 

 

     Wise-ant took over and decided that eating would be more enjoyable than this game of Russian roulette in the air and directed the PPP-1 to a soft landing in the treetop.  Perched precariously at the top of a large pine tree, Speck went to work securing the PPP-1 in a nose down attitude, ready for a relaunch by severing the anchoring web.

            Their landing had been spotted by a group of boys who started throwing rocks at the PPP-1 trying to dislodge it.  The plane was at the top of the tree and well out of rock range and all the attention from below actually helped out by distracting all the early morning picnickers from the food.  This food safari would be easy!  Speck lowered a reconnaissance group of the strongest ants down the backside of the tree.  They would retrieve the food, hoisting it up on Speck's Super strong web.  Rocks continued to fly and one boy had started to climb the tree, the ants went into hurry mode. 

 

     With the food gathered the slow ascent started, the ants and Speck pulling the food and the re-con crew up as fast as they could.  The flying rocks had stopped and the only obstacle was the boy climbing the tree. 

 

     The branches were getting smaller and his progress slowed.  He didn't even notice the payload being hoisted up right past him.  Success and breakfast seemed close at hand until the re-con group saw the huge hot air balloon coming in from the South at tree top level. 

 

     The ants up top spotted it at the same time and pulled the load up faster than they thought possible.  The food was loaded and all the ants took their flying positions readying themselves for a diving relaunch.  Wise-ant watched the rogue balloon getting closer and closer. 

 

     He had wanted to wait to launch later in the day when there was more thermal activity but if they didn't get out of the tree now they would be caught for sure.  In the current no lift conditions they would be on the ground shortly after launching with no way to get back into the air.  To make matters worse there was another balloon firing up his burners preparing to get airborne.  The prevailing atmosphere on board the PPP-1 was that of doom, the end seemed very near.  The smallest ant on board, almost useless because of his small size and always unnoticed due to his quiet nature went up to Wise-ant and whispered into Wise-ant's ear.

 

      "CUT THE LINE NOW!!!"  Wise-ant screamed catching everyone by surprise.  Speck responded at once and the plane plummeted straight down gaining airspeed.  The other ants knew to be ready to respond to flight commands; their lives depended on it!  "Pull up…  Hard left...  Left rudder...  High side and hold your positions!"  Wise-ant's orders came quickly and precisely; his crew was the best and responded promptly. 

 

     No one but Wise-ant knew what was going to happen but the crew had faith in their leader.  Wise-ant's plan soon became apparent as the PPP-1 flew flat circles just above the rising hot air balloon. 

 

     The ants were using the artificial heat source for lift and were able to stay with it to 8000 feet.  At that point they headed off downwind putting some distance between themselves and those pesky hot air balloons.  Now free and clear of the danger, the ants started to congratulate Wise-ant on his quick thinking. 

 

     Wise-ant thanked his crew but explained that the idea came from Teneey.  The ants were very surprised and even speechless for a moment.  Then a loud cheer started up lead by Acro.  Wise-ant ordered Teneey to have some breakfast and take over the control of the beautiful PPP-1.  Teneey was now pilot in command and he felt great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Thirteen

 

Bobby’s Distant Dad

 

 

 

 

 

     Bobby’s Dad had really been pulling in the overtime lately, flying jetliners coast to coast and to all points in between. Tonight he was holed up in a motel room with his co-pilot. They were watching the news and playing cards to pass the time. Don’s cards flew across the room and he almost knocked over the card table as he rushed to turn the volume up on the TV.

 

 

     All he had seen was the pre-show teaser. His stepson, Bobby, had been saying something to the camera while looking up to the sky. Jack, the co-pilot, had not seen the news blip and thought Don was seeing things; after all they were thousands of miles from Don’s hometown of Oakville.

 

    The two of them pushed the cards aside and were paying close attention to the television. They had to wait till the end of the broadcast before Bobby came on. All of a sudden Bobby’s face filled the screen. Don blurted loud enough so that the adjoining rooms could hear, “THAT’S MY SON!” Jack watched intently ignoring Don’s outburst. Don watched his son talk to the camera about the airshow he flew in and about his paper airplanes cross-country flight. When Bobby told of how he and Silent Flight Hang Gliding were going to fly up and retrieve the plane. Don lunged for the telephone! He had to talk to Bobby, he suddenly felt lonely with out his family. 14 rings later Don gently set the phone back on the receiver and sat quietly staring at the wall. “ Don, you all right?” Jack asked cautiously.

 

     Don just stared at the wall in a silent stupor. “Don?” Jack persisted. Don jumped to his feet mumbling, “I should be with my family” and he started packing. Jack reminded Don that they had a flight schedule and they had to be at the airport, ready to fly, at six o’clock in the morning. Don slowed his packing, thought of his responsibility, and then stopped completely.

 

     Don sat down on the edge of the bed and rested his head in his hands. He thought long and hard about his family, the family he had been ignoring.

 

     He vowed then and there to himself that the overtime would stop, he wanted his wife and son, and, he would have them. However, now was now and later would come. Tomorrow he had to fly his passengers and now he had to try to get some sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Fourteen

 

SILENT FLIGHT ~ THE CHASE

 

 

 

 

   

     Dave, Anne and Bobby woke with the sun the next morning and turned on the television to check the newest news pertaining to Bobby’s PPP-1. The only thing on the news other than what had already happened was a top-secret military leak saying that an attempt had been made to catch the PPP-1 somewhere over the mid-west.

 

     Bobby was a little dejected when an exact location was not mentioned. Dave was patient and waited for the weather satellite picture before commenting. When the picture flashed on the screen Dave quickly pointed out the path of the PPP-1 as they knew it so far. He then extended his finger across the dusty screen following the edge of an eastbound frontal system. “They have to be in this area, ahead of it and they would get rained on and behind it the high pressure system would ground the PPP-1 because of the stable air mass containing no lift”. 

 

 

     Dave’s finger slid across the screen leaving a squiggly trail in the dust and stopped in the middle of the Rockies, “we’ll go here for the intercept” Dave commented thoughtfully. After a quick phone call to the news station, the trio was off. They were headed for the Rockies and the news media had everyone in the country looking for the PPP-1.

 

      Bobby was looking at the map and was confused.  “Dave, I think we’re going the wrong way,” he said. Dave laughed and told Bobby that in order to get to the Rockies in the shortest amount of time sometimes one had to go the opposite direction at first. Bobby was now really confused!

 

     All Bobby could manage was a puzzled “Huh?” “Look over there” Dave said pointing out the window. Bobby read the sign out loud; “Southern Pacific” Bobby read slowly and precisely, his mouth twisting in confusion.

 

       Dave explained that one of his friends who also flew hang gliders worked for Southern Pacific Railroad and that they would soon be loading the Silent Flight tow unit on a flat car for the long journey and that they would be having dinner in the dining car and sleeping the next couple of nights on board a private Pullman car.

 

     Bobby understood now, and, since trains were his next favorite thing to planes, he was a very happy little boy!!

 

       It didn’t take long to load the tow unit and gliders on a flat car and find their private Pullman car. The train started with a clanky jerk and picked up speed quickly. Dave’s friend had to use his pull to arrange a non-stop ride to the Rockies and the miles started clacking by.

 

      Upstairs in the dining car Dave, Anne and Bobby enjoyed a continental breakfast as they watched the city turn to country. Bobby had only watched trains from a distance and this was his very first ride, he could barely contain his excitement. When the porter came through to pick up the dishes after breakfast, Dave asked that Bobby be taken to the engine for a while.

 

     Bobby couldn’t believe what was happening. A few days ago his friends were laughing at his paper airplane and now he was on an adventure that only happens in the movies. Bobby seemed to float out of the dining car following the porter to the front of the long train leaving Dave and Anne alone.

      Anne and Dave sat in silence for quite a while just watching the countryside fly by in the direction they had come from. Anne was the first to speak, “I want to thank you for helping take care of Bobby, and you’re really helping build his self esteem”.

 

     Dave nodded and told her that he was young once and that he just loved to help when he could. Anne smiled another thank you, closed her eyes and leaned against Dave’s shoulder to nap.

     Dave sat staring out the window of the seemingly sub-sonic train. The countryside was flashing by in a blur but Dave’s focus was on the sky. The sky was saturated with lifty cumulus clouds. He was feeling just a tad ground sick, he hadn’t flown for days.

 

     Dave pulled the train schedule from his pocket and studied it briefly. He then pulled out a map of the area and checked his watch. He needed to get in the air, he couldn’t sit next to Anne much longer with out developing stronger feelings towards her and the sky was calling his name.

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Fifteen

 

Time to Fly!

 

 

 

 

 

     Dave's plan had a time element to it. He had to be ready to fly in one hour. He let Anne sleep another 10 minutes then gently nudged her awake. "Anne", "I need to Fly and I'll need your help, ok?"  "I guess so" she said not quite sure what was going to happen.

 

 

     Anne followed Dave towards the flat car where the tow unit was chained down. Along the way Dave explained how she could help out while he launched from the moving train. Anne couldn't believe what she was hearing.

 

     Her job was not hard, just listen to Dave on the radio and do what he said. That's all. Simple. Dave sent a porter to get Bobby. Dave knew Bobby would want to see this launch. After all it was to be the first ever launch of a hang glider from a moving train. Dave started to get ready.

 

     First he set up the tow unit and beefed up the weak link at the end of 10,000 feet of lightweight Kevlar towline. Then he his harness all ready to go. The last thing to do was to set up the glider.

 

     Dave figured that the train would need to slow down as it approached the next town. The glider had to be set up and ready to go by the time the train started to speed up after leaving town. That meant 12 minutes to set up the glider and the glider had to be on the tow unit and ready to go in less than two minutes after clearing the town.

   Bobby and Anne had very important roles to play in getting the glider ready. They would need to help cut down the normal 25 minute setup time down to no more than the 12 minutes that Dave figured they had.

 

   Dave had just finished getting the harness ready as the train whistle sounded the start of the slow down. That was when Bobby showed up and was very quickly briefed by Dave, " I'm going flying, get ready to stuff battens and we need to hurry!" Bobby knew how to follow directions and grabbed a handful of left side battens, he was ready. "Now, lets do it!"

 

     Dave said as he sprang into action. It was poetry in motion watching those three stuffing battens. The glider was ready to fly in 7 minutes flat.

 

     Dave harnessed up and re-explained the launch directions along with his flight plan. This was to be a fun cross-country landing on the train when it slowed at the next town 150 miles away. The tailwind was good and Dave felt he would beat the train by at least 15-20 minutes.

 

    The trains whistle again sounded and the train started to speed up. Dave swung the glider into position on the tow unit. Anne took her place at the pressure unit and Bobby climbed up on top of the next car taking his position as lookout.

 

     Bobby held an airspeed indicator into the air flow and called out the numbers, "17mph... 19mph... 22mph" Dave was waiting foe the 32mph number to come up for launching."25mph... 27mph... LOOK OUT!!! TELEPHONE POLES!"

 

     Dave called "CLEAR" without hesitation and Anne pulled the release allowing the glider to slowly mush away from the flat car. The first of hundreds of telephone poles passed harmlessly just beneath the wing and as the train kept accelerating, Dave's climb rate got better also. 10,000 feet of Kevlar towline went quickly as Dave climbed out at over 2000 feet per minute.

 

     Dave got off tow at 7800 feet above the ground and radioed to Anne, "Start the rewind and thanks! see you soon" Anne flipped the rewind switch and the Kevlar tow line, flying a small parachute from where the glider had been, started its journey back to the spool on the tow unit where it lived, meanwhile...

 

   Dave had found some strong lift and was climbing faster than when he was on tow. Dave's new graphic composite glider was flying great, light bar pressures and very fast! Dave went on oxygen as he climbed through 13,500 feet and sped after the train when he topped out at 17,500 feet. With the help of the tailwind, he caught up with and easily passed the train. Dave radioed down to Anne and Bobby giving them an update on the flight. Bobby's eyes searched the sky for Dave's glider; however, it was invisible to the naked eye.

 

     With the help of the strong tailwind boasting Dave's ground speed to over 120 mph he soon out distanced the train, he outdistanced the radio also!

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Sixteen

 

Cross Country Fun/Practice

 

 

 

 

     Dave had been flying for hours. Flying the drift and staying high, he had no intention of landing and every once in a while he would try to get Anne on the radio to no avail. It didn't really matter, he knew where the train was going and he even was going that way also.

     Right now, with hundreds of miles behind him and 5 hours of daylight left, Dave was having the time of his life. Round and round; up and down...his flight kept getting better and better. Dave had already soared with golden eagles and out-climbed the highest performance sailplane made by man. The air was lifty and the view was well beyond description and it looked like a new world record in the making.

    Dave flew for a couple more hours blissed out in the third dimension. He was high over the Rockies and he could see the train snaking through the canyons far behind him. Dave had entered the Rocky mountain wave and was climbing fast in the strong smooth lift.

     Dave had been on oxygen for the last two hours and was starting to run low. He thought about the new world distance record that was his if he wanted it, it was just a glide away. A flash of movement behind and to his left caught his eye; his glider turned slightly following his gaze.

     His eyes searched hard for another sign of movement but everything blended magically with the ground 19,000 feet below. The sky above was marbled with clouds and offered camouflage also. The only thing Dave could really see was his own wing, alone in the sky.

 

     Again movement...now below and behind. Dave knew it must be something small and he knew his eyesight was excellent, now it was straining...

    Dave's brain was working overtime trying to catalog the possibilities; a bird, a plane, another glider, debris lifted towards the heavens?...It had to be one of those things, what else was there?

   The sun was above and behind the glider. A flicker of a shadow on the sail caught Dave' eye. Looking up at the undersurface of his wing Dave could make out the distinct shadow of a paper airplane following him!

    Dave was unable to shake the PPP-1 no matter which way he turned; Someone or something was definitely flying the PPP-1.

   Dave tried Anne on the radio one more time to no avail; almost all alone in the sky; the pursuit was on!

   Dave tucked into steep dive with the control bar to his toes... then pitched out into a tight 5 "G" loop. Coming over the top with the world upside-down, he nearly hit the PPP-1 as the paper airplane flew right through his control frame just missing his face. Dave got a quick but confirming look at the underside of the plane. It was one of his PPP-1's. The world's best paper airplane.

Now diving vertical with only the PPP-1 between him and the rest of the world, Dave watched in amazement as the PPP-1 initiated evasive maneuvers.

     Dave tried to follow the PPP-1, he was right on their tail when the paper airplane went hard left. As Dave pitched out hard to follow he loaded up to 8.5 G's and almost blacked out. The PPP-1was now 150 feet right below the Dave's glider.

   The PPP-1 had slowed to near stall speed as if to sucker him into another mach dive. Dave had slowed into a banked turn then pushed out stalling the left wing. The resulting altitude eating flat spin was coming straight down on the PPP-1 and all the ants could do was hold their collective breaths and hope he missed. Dave spun right through the PPP-1, his left wing flashing past the paper plane above, then, less than a second later the right wing slashed the air below. The resulting wake turbulence caused the PPP-1 to tumble out of control...falling towards the core of the earth where gravity lived.

    The ants had been having fun following this different flying machine. They had thought they were invincible. In all the flying they had done they had out flown everything they had come up against. Now they knew about hang glider pilots, and they didn't like it!!!

   Dave on the other hand glanced at his watch and realized he had a train to catch...

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Seventeen

 

An ants view

 

 

 

 

 

 

     Dave watched his right leading edge almost hit the PPP-1. The PPP-1 went under the right wing and now all of the ants were transfixed on the back of the left wing coming straight at them. Wise Ant yelled "HOLD ON!" as the trailing edge of the left wing shot by. The vortex created by the left wing going backwards was so turbulent & wild the PPP-1 just hung in space, The tumbling seemed to go on forever.

 

     All the ants were busy practicing their own version of the 'death grip'. Suddenly all was quiet & still, as the PPP-1's self righting capabilities came into play.

 

     The ants peered over the side at the hang glider that almost hit them. The glider was still spinning, its wings flashing in the dwindling light. Then the glider broke out of the spin into a pure vertical dive straight at the now larger and closer train tracks.

   Dave, still a little dizzy from all that spinning, pulled out of the vertical dive back into seemingly normal flight. Dave had burned a lot of altitude during the spin and now his eyes were bouncing all over the terrain not far below. Train tracks, a mountain, a tunnel and a lot of cactus & trees...also...a fast moving train about 5 miles from the tunnel, it was his train, the one that help Anne and Bobby. His eyes flew back to the mountain; he was too low to make it over them.

 

 

     Dave really needed to get back to the train he cursed silently to himself under his breath.

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Eighteen

 

To Catch a Train

 

 

 

 

  

     Dave's eyes and his calculating brain were now working in unison yet still spinning from the quick chase. He was getting low and had spotted the train...

 

    Train...4.5 miles from the tunnel; speed about 35 mph; altitude, 400 feet; ground speed 60 mph; light tailwind, the glider started to accelerate even before his brain had delivered the mathematical answer; he could make it if he hurried.

 

    The wind noise was deafening as Dave sped to his tricky rendezvous, he keyed his microphone and sent the deafening wind noise to Anne and Bobby.

 

     Dave saw them clearly standing on the flat car. "Anne" he yelled into his radio over the wind noise, "you and get out of the way, I'm going to land on the flat car!" Anne gasped as she grabbed Bobby's arm and moved themselves to the front of the flatcar and watched in terror as Dave had the nose of the glider pointed straight down at them, diving to his landing spot.

 

     Dave's eyes were watering due to the wind he was creating in his high-speed dive and with blurred vision he watched the tunnel start to swallow the front of the train.

 

     Dave subconsciously crossed his fingers inside his gloves. This was going to be close and he needed all the help he could get.

 

     Dave was now lower, 30 feet above the flatcar, good, ground speeds matched exactly, good, tunnel getting closer, BAD! Dave was now holding the appearance of hovering over the flat car.

 

    Dave noticed the terrified look on Anne's face but he didn't have time to think about anything but landing!

 

   Getting out of the way after landing was also on his mind as the tunnel prepared to rip off his wings and eat his glider for dinner, that also sounded good, DINNER!

 

    Dave's stomach had been complaining for hours. Dave didn't want Anne to see what was going to happen next so in the calmest voice he could muster, he keyed up the radio and said, "Anne, could you get me a cheeseburger please?"

 

     As Anne turned and headed for the dinning car Dave's feet touched the flatcar. Dave's reflexes went into action; pull the pin on the quick release carabineer then dive to the floor of the flatcar just before the tunnel ripped his glider off the flat car and mangled it on the front of the following boxcar.

 

   As Dave landed on his face he heard the resounding explosion as his leading edges splintered on the front of the tunnel.

 

   As Dave stood and aid "hi Bobby" Anne reappeared and handed him his cheeseburger saying, "welcome back".

 

   Dave chewed his burger and silently contemplated a new plan that paper airplane was going to be hard to catch.

 

   Anne surveyed the mangled mass of what use to be a very pretty hang glider and said out loud to no one in particular, "what now?" Bobby answered instantly, "don't worry, Dave will figure it out!" Dave cringed inside when he heard that, expectations, the hardest thing to live up to, and, he didn't even have a plan "B" yet. This made him chew faster and think harder.

 

 

           

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Nineteen

 

PPP-1 update

 

 

 

 

 

 

     The ants had stabilized in some light lift and were climbing out over the Rockies. They all were lying on their backs talking about their encounter with the hang glider. Wise ant was saying" we will never fly close to a hang glider again!" Acro chimed in, "I've never seen anybody fly so good...I know I will never forget that face, I was so close to it as he looped through us!" Wise ant clarified, "I don't think any of us will forget that face!!!" The others sighed out unanimously "NO WE WON'T"

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Twenty

 

Near Miss

 

 

 

 

 

     The ants had never been so high before, approaching 42,000 feet. They peered over the side of the PPP-1 at the earth far, far below. The air as smooth and even from that high, the ground sped by. "Where are we going?" said the small Penee. "Don’t know" Wise ant said in a mysterious voice. "Don't care" added Acro, "I just want to get upside-down again, and soon!"

 

 

     Acro bent his head and looked upside-down through all six pairs of his legs to emphasize his point. "Did you see that?" Penee asked to anyone that heard him. "It was quite a ways behind us Penee said in a quieter and more thoughtful tone to the few ants that were standing with him looking back off the trailing edge at where they had been. Another flash, this time everyone saw it. "Its getting closer" Penee announced. "What do you think it is?" asked Micro. "Don't know, I just hope its not that hang glider again!" Penee responded to the void behind them.

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Twenty-one

 

Daddy's Coming Home

 

 

 

 

 

     Don, Bobby’s distant Dad, literally, was at the controls of the big modern jetliner climbing through 42,000 feet. More than 8 miles above the train that Bobby was aboard. "Don"...the co-pilot called out while wearing a face that was showing a small amount of fear and a large amount of concern.

 

 

     Jack continued, "We are not supposed to be this high..." Don's eyes were fixed on the read out that displayed their ground speed and slightly smiled as the numbers an even higher speed across the display. "The higher we are, the higher the tailwind, the faster the ground speed, the sooner I see Bobby!" "But we are not cleared for this altitude" Jack mentioned softly. "Don't care!" spat Don, "we'll just call it a computer error and leave it at that!" Don said in a voice that meant business. The L1011 streaked through the sky, nobody aware of the train far below or the PPP-1 far ahead.

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Twenty-two

 

Time for "work"

 

 

 

 

 

     The shape took form almost instantly. For micro seconds the ants were frozen in place. Recognizing the quickly enlarging front end of a new L1011 jetliner with an apparent closure rate of over 950 mph, faster than the speed of sound.

 

    That didn't stop Penee from screaming "WISSEE ANTTT!" with the loudest, quivering, I mean business voice that he himself had never heard. Wise ant looked back and instantly commanded "everyone to the front, DIVE, DIVE, DIVE!!!" Everyone responded to this new emergency in milli-seconds, soon they were pointing straight down!

 

    The nose of the jet was still getting bigger, more quickly than the diving ants preferred. Acro screamed louder than the deafening wind they were creating in the now, very apparently, useless dive, "FOLLOW ME!" He turned and lead the swarming pack to the very back of the PPP-1 causing the PPP-1 to pitch up into the biggest and fastest loop ever done in the atmosphere of planet earth.

 

    The PPP-1 was now upside-down with the big L1011 passing right below them for what seemed like seconds, but was probably only mini-micro seconds.

 

    The ants all made eye contact with Don, Bobby's homebound Father. At the instant of recognition Don slammed the yoke forward diving the big jet below the looping PPP-1.

 

     Near miss was an understatement of how close it really had been. Unbeknownst to any of the ants, the front wing tip stabilizers had left marks in the light dust the full length of the L1011 and just barely missed the L1011's tall rudder.

 

   Don Yelled "Did you see that paper airplane!?"  "We almost hit it, I think it was bobby's!"

 

   Don was breathing hard as he sputtered something about getting that paper airplane for his son. Jack gently patted Don on the shoulder and told him that a rest was in order and he would take over for a while.

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Twenty-three

 

A Sailplane

 

 

 

 

 

    Dave sat down next to Anne and Bobby deep in thought. "To catch those ants hmmm... He was rapidly processing all available information. He was still a little weak in the knees from that last landing but it didn't stop him from jumping to his feet, dislodging Anne and Bobby, causing them to fall towards each other bumping their heads with a painful and resounding crack heard by all that were sitting near them. "Owww" moaned Bobby and Anne at the same time.

 

     Dave was ignoring them and proclaimed loudly "A sailplane, we will go after the PPP-1 and those very competent ants with a state of the art, high performance, aerobatic sailplane!" "Hand me the cell phone, I've got some favors to call in." Dave continued in a quieter and more serious tone in his voice as he was dialing and talking to various unknown people.

 

 

    Bobby looked confused, "A sailplane? What’s the difference?"

"You can fly upside-down in a sailplane and I have an idea, you will help won't you Bobby?" Dave was flashing a smile that looked just a little scary. Bobby was able to squeeze out a feeble "sure, of course!"

 

    Dave laid out the plan...We get off at the next stop, a car will be waiting for us and I will have the train engineer leave our flatcar at the next railroad hub he comes to, we'll pick it up later.

 

    Bobby was getting visibly excited, Anne on the other hand was still back on the "fly upside-down" statement and the "you will help" comment wasn't doing her stomach any good either.

   Our stop is in 15 minutes, "Lets get that plane" Dave said, his usual calmness very evident. He was ready!

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Twenty four

 

To Fly or to Fly

 

 

 

 

 

    Dave and bobby, both wearing parachutes, settled into the cockpit of the sleek Grob 103 Acro, one of the finest aerobatic sailplanes made. Strapped in and balanced on the only wheel the sailplane had, they bounced briefly until the long wings took their first bite of air. Bobby was fascinated. He had never heard of a sailplane much less fly in one, with Dave at the controls to boot.

 

 

    Bobby, between glances out the window and scanning the instrument panel was on overload, the quickly shrinking earth seemed to be in sync with the spinning altimeter. The gauges said they were going up at 3000 feet per minute. At that rate they would be a mile above the earth in less than 2 minutes Bobby's mathematical mind assimilated. The digital altimeter numbers were changing so fast they were just a blur to Bobby's excited eyes.

 

   A sharp 'Crack' brought bobby back to the present. Bobby realized that the tow plane, which had towed them this far, was now diving away, leaving them without a motor high above the rugged mountains below.

 

   "Off Tow-Here we go!" Dave announced to his crew of one.

 

    Bobby watched the nose of the glider dip and saw the airspeed increase quickly. Soon all Bobby could hear was the screaming of the wind they had just knifed through.

   Dave was speeding towards the awaiting rendezvous. He felt he knew which canyon the PPP-1 would have difficulty crossing because of the sinking air that was trapped there. He was also silently wishing he had told Bobby more about his plan. Like the 'jettison of the canopy' part, he had left that out so that Anne wouldn't be so worried about Bobby.

   Dave was counting on the adrenalin rush created with-in Bobby as the canopy flew off; his head and face smacked hard by the wind, to complete the task; catch that paper airplane while jettisoning the canopy while upside-down

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPP-1 The Book

Chapter Twenty five

 

The Catch

 

 

 

 

    As Bobby's brain prepared to exit unconsciousness the blurry face over him started to take shape. "Good morning sleepy head" Anne said softly. "Huh? What? What happened?" Bobby said as he dug the sand from his eyes. Anne spoke louder now, "Its air show Saturday, lets go!" "Huh?" Bobby slurred still half asleep. "I'm not hurt? Bobby questioned confusingly. "What? -Hurt?", I don't know why you would say that, you fell asleep in the car before we were even out of the mall parking lot last night." Anne advised in a teasing and taunting voice.

 

   Bobby looked to his nightstand, yes; it still held his unflown PPP-1. Next to it was a half eaten jam sandwich with sleeping ants on it.

 

 

     Anne followed his gaze and upon seeing the ants gasped in disgust. "What a mess" she proclaimed as she reached for the mess. Bobby blurted out as he sat up, "wait, I'll take care of it." Anne relented with an admonishment regarding their time schedule for the air show. Bobby, still puzzled acknowledged the time schedule as he put the half eaten jam sandwich containing ten big picnic ants in a shoe box, just in case...Anne left him to get ready.

   Bobby looked at the Silent Flight poster, his beautiful PPP-1 and the now awake ants on the jam sandwich eating their hearts out and thought "just a dream"..."I'll write a book"