Takeoff!

By Linda Porter Carlyle

Hannah Maria Estevez was so excited she could barely breathe. She walked ahead of Papa out the door into the hot summer air. She walked across the black asphalt toward the huge plane that sat shrieking right in front of her. She followed the other passengers slowly up the staircase that was pushed up to the plane’s front door. Hannah felt Papa’s comforting hand on her shoulder as she stepped into the plane.

A friendly woman looked at the boarding pass in Hannah’s hand. “Row 14, seat A,” she said. She smiled. “You have a window seat.”

Hannah couldn’t answer the woman even though she knew that was the polite thing to do. Her tongue wouldn’t move. She already knew she had a window seat. Papa had asked especially for it.

Hannah stopped and waited for the people in front of her in the long aisle to find their seats. She inched along. Finally she saw row 14.

“Give me your backpack,” Papa said. “I’ll put it in the overhead compartment with my carry-on bag.”

Hannah squeezed into the row and sat down by the window. She felt the seat belt underneath her. She quickly pulled it out and fastened it. Papa settled into the seat beside her. He fastened his seat belt too. He smiled at Hannah. “Are you nervous?” he asked.

“A little,” Hannah managed to say. Actually she didn’t know where her excitement left off and her nervousness began. She had always wondered what it would be like to fly in a plane. So when Papa had told her last week that she could go along when he flew to San Francisco on his business trip, she could hardly believe it. She would get to stay with Tia (Aunt) Maria and play with the cousins while Papa was at his meetings. Which was almost as thrilling as a plane trip.

She smiled to herself when she remembered how excited Mac had been for her. “Oh, I want to fly so much!” Mac had exclaimed. “I wish my dad would take me on a plane! Tell me everything about it when you get home!” And now here she was. She. Herself. Actually sitting in a seat on an airplane. And in a few minutes she would be high in the air. And there would be nothing underneath her but air! She looked at Papa in alarm.

“What’s the matter?” Papa asked softly.

“What is going to make this plane stay up?” Hannah whispered.

“The air will hold it up,” Papa whispered back.

“How?” Hannah asked.

“I don’t understand it exactly,” Papa admitted. “It has to do with the design of the airplane and how fast it goes. But the good thing is we don’t have to understand it all. The air will hold the plane up whether we understand it or not.”

Hannah sat thinking. It wasn’t a very good explanation.

Papa could see that Hannah was not satisfied. “Listen, isn’t your Sabbath School lesson this week about God’s grace?” he asked.

Hannah nodded.

“We can’t see God’s grace,” Papa said, “but we trust in it. God has promised to give us the gift of eternal life, and we believe that He has. The air that holds the plane up is a little like that. We can’t see how it works, but it does. And we’re trusting in it.”

Hannah suddenly giggled. “My lesson is about Elijah and the chariot of fire,” she said. “I wonder if the chariot of fire made as much noise as this plane?”

“That’s an excellent question,” Papa said. “My Bible’s in my carry-on bag. Let’s read the story and see if it says anything about ‘a very great noise’.” He stood up and stepped into the aisle. He poked around in the overhead bin, found his Bible, and sat back down.

Just then the flight attendant began to speak into her microphone. Hannah listened carefully to all the directions she gave. When the attendant finished speaking, Hannah heard a change in the sound of the engines. They became much, much louder. They sounded very powerful! The plane began to move slowly away from the terminal.

When it reached the end of the runway, the plane stopped. It turned around and faced back the way it had come. The engines began to roar. Hannah clutched her armrests and stared out of the window. The plane moved slowly at first. Then faster, and faster, and faster until the ground dropped away, and Hannah was floating in the air!

She rested her forehead against the glass and looked out. Was that really a cloud right next to the window? Hannah turned to look at Papa. “Do you think Elijah went this fast?” she asked.

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