“What in the world are you doing?” Maddie asked with an odd look as she walked into the kitchen.
Kyle pinched off the end of the balloon and tied a quick knot.
“Constance found something up in the attic over the weekend and I’m getting ready to explain it to her,” he said as he taped a plastic basket to the narrow end of the balloon.
As she surveyed the setup on the kitchen table, she called for Constance and said, “I’m going to stay out of this one.”
“What’s all this?” Constance asked after seeing the table.
“This is the toy you found Saturday afternoon. Have a seat and get a feel for the controls.”
She sat down and took the control in hand. As she moved the stick, the fan, which bore an uncanny resemblance to a radar dish, moved accordingly. “Okay, now what?”
“Turn it on and play with the throttle. The trigger on the stick controls how fast the fan runs.”
“Yeah. Cool, huh?”
“Depends. What am I trying to accomplish?”
Kyle set the balloon down in front of the fan and said, “You’re going to fly the balloon.”
“How? Does it have helium in it or something?”
“Nope, just hot air.”
“That’ll be enough from the peanut gallery,” Kyle said with a grin in Maddie’s direction. “Have you ever seen the cross-section of an airplane wing?”
“Yes. The top’s curved and the bottom is flat.”
“Exactly. That’s Bernoulli’s principle in action.”
“An eighteenth century physicist who determined that a fluid, in this case air, passing over a curved surface must surrender some pressure as it passes over the curve. That creates a low pressure area above the wing resulting in what pilots refer to as lift. So if you aim the fan at the top of the balloon, the air passing over the curve should give the balloon enough lift to fly it around the room.”
Constance aimed the radar dish and ran the throttle up to full power. An instant later the balloon skittered across the tabletop and over the edge.
“Oops,” Constance said and moved to recover the balloon. Kyle resisted the urge to move to the controls and demonstrate for her.
She adjusted the radar dish and only pulled the trigger part way this time and the balloon moved slowly to the edge of the table before falling off.
“Oops,” she said again and looked at her dad. She saw him move and then catch himself and said, “Dad, I can do this, don’t worry.”
Kyle looked at the floor and couldn’t help but laugh.
“Are you laughing at me?”
“No, just being amazed at how much you are your father’s daughter. Those were my exact words to your grandfather twenty years ago. Of course, he always had a spiritual metaphor ready and it was at that point he spung it on me.”
“He likened my first attempts to how people will do things on their own and tend to do them poorly until they learn to rely on God. He said to think of lift as power coming down from on high drawing us up out of ourselves and closer to God.”
“Okay, I can take a hint,” she said and aimed well above the balloon before beginning her next attempt. As she eased the flow of air down across the top of the balloon it quivered and then lifted an inch off the table. A few false starts and five minutes later the balloon had moved from the table to the sink on nothing more than a stream of air.
“So what did you think?”
“Awesome, Dad. I’m gonna go text Erica about this.”
“Pretty pleased with yourself, aren’t you?” Maddie asked and wrapped her arms around his chest.
“I’m just happy she didn’t think the whole thing was …lame. Is that the word?”
“Yes it is. I hope you’ll remember this father/ daughter moment four years from now.”
“Why four years?”
“In four years she’ll be sixteen and think she’s got a leg up on learning how to drive.”
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