Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: ZENITH (04/21/16)
TITLE: The Very Best
By Jennifer Woodley
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Ben smiled satisfactorily. This was his last solo flight before accreditation. Thousands and thousands of dollars, hours and hours of flying time, nights and nights of endless study had culminated in this moment. Flying had been his passion for as long as he remembered. The reality of his dream was upon him. He felt full of joy and full of gratitude to the God who had made it possible.
Yet Ben was ambitious. He had set his sights on something even higher than this dual seater Cessna that he maneuvered skilfully over the Queensland coastline. The best was yet to come.
Checking his instruments again, Ben descended to around 170 meters and enjoyed the view directly before him. Surf crashed over golden sand. Keen surfers at Burleigh Beach doggedly pursued unimpressive waves hoping to catch a ride. Smiling at their vain efforts, Ben banked left and gathered speed to around 220 kilometers. He followed the undulating mountain range, part of the Great Divide, northwards back to Brisbane, landing smoothly at Archerfield airstrip.
Alighting from the aircraft, Mike, Ben’s instructor, affectionately slapped him on the back.‘Congratulations Ben, I am so happy for you!’
Ben thanked Mike warmly, with a grin from ear to ear. Crossing the tarmac, they headed towards the office to complete final paperwork. Ben’s heart was still elated, soaring as high as the Cessna he had just flown.
Roaring at jet speed, the formation of five sliced through early morning fog over the Brindabella Ranges, west of Canberra. Contrails streamed thinly behind each aircraft, diffusing gradually like the white cotton mist below.
The five young pilots were the cream of the Australian military. The very best. They each maneuvered their FA/18 in precise union, a choreographic showcase that thrilled and wowed all who happened to turn their eyes skyward on that clear morning.
At a cruising speed of 1 250 kilometers per hour, the FA/18’s broke through the air space over Canberra and landed simultaneously at the Defence Force Air Base on the outskirts of the nation’s capital.
Ben leaned back into his seat and breathed a prayer of thanks. Years upon years of training, studying, rigorous flying and self-discipline had culminated in this moment. His boyhood dream of flying fighter jets had arrived. He was in awe of God’s goodness and provision. Usually a man of controlled emotion, his eyes now misted over, tears of thanks expressing what his words could not.
He removed his helmet and stepped down from the cockpit. His team mates gathered beside him, firm hand-shakes all round. The operational flight was a success; together they had achieved the required time, speed and manoeuvres.
Ben reflected back on a similar moment when Mike greeted him years before as he disembarked from a tiny Cessna after the final flight for accreditation. Could it be possible to be more elated than in that moment? Apparently so. For the past ten years Ben had given his everything, yes, his very best. And now he had been rewarded, had been blessed, with the very best. There was no finer moment.
Dedicated to my son, Benjamin, the pilot.
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