I received the news last night that my little brother Patrick went down in a vintage plane in New Mexico from Kansas on the way back to Fresno sometime between Friday night and Saturday, I guess. He was a very experienced pilot, a freak of a mechanical maintenance man, and more than anything else, just loved being up there all by himself.
“You know that song, “Sailing?” he’d said, back when he was working for MGM Grand airlines counting and measuring and checking and re-checking every bolt and screw. I remember how proud I was on the tarmac when we’d boarded the plane and he’d walked us out. That’s my brother, I’d said, and if he checked this plane, it’s definitely ok.
“That’s how I feel up there.”
“Whenever you get on a plane” he’d said to me sternly, “You need to ask for the 90 hour Stem-to-Stern Certificate. They have to check that plane stem to stern every 90 flying hours, or they can’t take off. With commercial schedules these days there’s no way they can do that. They have to show you that certificate.” I nodded, imagining the scene:
…a planeload of pissed-off New Yorkers. “Sorry, we can’t leave..” the annoyed pilot says over the P.A, “The bitch in 32B needs to see our ‘stem to stern‘ inspection certificate. Guess we’ll aaaaaallllll just have to wait a little looooonger!”
Patrick was a unique, eccentric kid. I mean, he lived in his own world. In our family at that point the sooner you found your own world to live in the better.
When he was really little, he became completely fascinated and obsessed by the trash truck. He’d stand by the window, eyes wide, and watch them ride in on the huge gray beast like warriors on a tank, the truck beeping and backing up and the huge jaw-like apparatus lowering and picking up the cans, the trash man supervising and assisting the whole operation masterfully from the ‘stern’, leaping from bumper to curb like a dancer, waving, beep beep beep until the mighty tank rumbled away.
Little Patrick must have been about 3 or 4 when he morphed into a trash truck. Purposefully striding around the house on his new little legs, his little right hand was on an imaginary stickshift as his little left hand confidently maneuvered an imaginary steering wheel. He’d ‘drive’ around the coffee table, stop, and carefully check his imaginary rear-view mirror before sounding a little ‘beep beep beep‘, back up, change course and head to the kitchen.
I remember him in being in this mode most of the time.
As soon as he could he started hanging out at the Van Nuys Airport before he was old enough to drive, riding with the Civil Air Patrol and working on finding a missing plane that had gone down decades earlier.
He found it.
If my brother were that hyper, mysterious little kid today, he’d be doped up within an inch of a walking coma.
We just knew there was something going on we didn’t understand but it was obviously very clear to him, so we just watched him go…marvelled at him, really.
I’m so moved to read today what I’m reading about him, seems that a lot of other people feel the same way I do.
Mad respect, baby boy.