Birds and flying have been a big point of interest in my family for many years. It started with my father’s father. My grandfather came from Greece as an teenage immigrant and started out delivering food on his bike. He worked hard to make money and saved up and bought a horse and cart to deliver food.
Eventually he bought a taxi and started a taxi service in Greenville, SC. Finally over about 7 years or so he started the first bus line of South Carolina. He was so proud to be an American that he made the bald eagle the symbol of his business. He had two 7 foot tall statues of eagles sitting on globes on either side of the bus line garage doors. Eagles were his symbol on his business stationary and office implements. As a little girl I always thought they were so beautiful.
His first born son, my father, had a passion for flying. He loved to fly! He started out taking flying lessons while at Clemson University. Later he signed up for the U.S. Air Corps in 1941. He took further training to be a flight instructor to the pilots in the U.S. Air Corps during World War II. Later after driving for his father’s bus lines, he flew commercial flights for photographers or single passengers in twin propeller air craft.
When I was about 16 years old I still remember the time he took me up in a glider. I was a little nervous as a teenager to not have an engine in the airplane. But we were towed up in the sky by another airplane, which we were tethered to by a chain. Then released. WOW!
Once in the air my fears were abated. I can not tell you the joy I felt from being in the air like a bird with no engine sounds, just the wind, as the glider went through the currents of air. My father’s long years of being a pilot gave me peace of mind knowing he was an excellent pilot. He even wrote a poem about being a pilot.
His love of flying never died. His love continued even into his early 50’s(?), when he put together an ultra light, a simple airplane with only the basics of a commercial airplane but with only one or two seats. I think the day he couldn’t fly any more was the day his heart was broken. He had health issues that prevented him from passing the physical for renewal of his pilot’s license. He was so sad and upset when that happened.
My youngest sister also had the pleasure of riding with our father in a glider. Later she took private pilot lessons and passed her flying exam and achieved her student license and soloed at the age of 18. Due to prohibitive costs of renting an airplane, she could not use the license to fly. But Daddy was so happy that she wanted to share in his love of flying.
At our father’s funeral his son in law, who was a minister, delivered the service after a wonderful eulogy read by my first sister. Behind the podium was a huge 20 foot tall glass window. Outside of the glass were two huge bushes on either side. All during the sermon a bird, I think it was a robin, was flying back and forth between the bushes, almost the whole time. It was like Daddy was saying, “I can fly. I am happy, whole, and well again.”
I didn’t truly enjoy watching birds in my earlier years. That was partly because I was nearsighted in my later elementary school years. Upon having my vision checked in the sixth grade I found out that I was nearsighted! Imagine my joy when my corrective lens made it possible to see the leaves on the trees and the beauty of nature both near and far.
Years later I took a trip to visit my youngest sister and her husband in Missouri. They took me to the place where eagles fly and gather to nest. It was a glorious sight to see a real bald eagle in flight. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my zoom lens so my regular lens couldn’t do justice to the beauty of the eagles in flight.
Another amazing event in my life was rescuing a hawk. https://joyful2beeblogs.com/2021/04/05/a-hawk-rescue/ Since then I have noticed several living in my area. Either a hawk or some other raptor may live in the woods that I can see in the distance in a valley below my home.
Often I see vultures sitting on the high power towers. They have to live too, in spite of the bad reputation they have. They eat carrion from the highways or wherever they see them, which helps keep the roads and highways beautiful.
But next to an eagle or other raptor none look like they truly love flying as much as a vulture does. They glide, without flapping their wings for great distances and at great heights. They must love to ride the thermals, a current of air that rises, high in the sky. It looks to me like they are doing it for the pure joy of flying.
Now I am older and my life has slowed down, I like to sit by my window in my bedroom or by the windows and door of my back porch, and watch the variety of birds that come to eat the seeds I throw out for them every few days.
I am beginning to recognize some of the birds by their calls, songs and appearances. Learning them all will take quite a while I am sure! Here is a comical and educational post on communicating with birds. https://joyful2beeblogs.com/2021/04/07/a-warbled-mind/