It was a dark, stormy morning. The skies were overcast and the air was cool. The World War I Flying Ace took to the skies again in his Sopwith Camel, in search of his nemesis, the Red Baron.
The theater was crowded. The 8 kilometers covered the famous institute of Higher Learning, George Mason University. As the Flying Ace donned his leather helmet, goggles, and trigger-finger gloves, some thought he was overdressed. But arriving early, he knew it was necessary to suit up.
The Red Baron had been sighted.
Oh yes, the Fokker Triplane was always the snappiest airplane in the skies, despite its age. The Flying Ace recalled a time when he was 5 years old and discovered a hand-made wooden replica in the Rochester House of his grandparents, on Rutgers Street. As he and his brother investigated the many upstairs rooms (egad! some occupied by lodgers), they came across the treasured and fragile prize, built by his Uncle Bob. The whereabouts of the model remain unknown.
The Flying Ace remarked to his daughter Bridget, who would take to the air with him this day, that each race is a journey of the soul. For one starts the race with many, but as each companion falls away, somewhere within the race it becomes your own. For only you know the struggles of your journey, and you will finish alone.
It was at kilometer 3 when the Flying Ace, in his impudence, overtook the Red Baron despite the constant voice in his head - just stay on his tail. Keep him in your sights. The Flying Ace took replenishment at kilometer 5, and as he did so he was overtaken by the Red Baron. Curses! And again he said to himself - just stay on his tail.
At this point his Wingman began to bear down with a solemn and unflinching drive that would leave the Red Baron behind for good. But the Flying Ace, with but 3 kilometers to go, knew he would need to push the Sopwith Camel to its limit to overtake him. And at kilometer 7, he buzzed the treetops and his resolve was renewed as he could hear members of his squadron cheering - "There He Is! 50 meters ahead! Go Get Him!"
The Flying Ace heard the report from below deck "I'm giving her all she's got Captain!" and he closed to within 10 meters. "She's breaking up Captain!" And feeling the weight of its tremendous burden, the Ancient Ship of the Desert could not close the gap. With one last, futile effort he watched as the Red Baron crossed the finish line 10 seconds ahead.
But it was good to see the Red Baron again. And hopefully, we will meet again. For more of the Red Baron, see my earlier post.