The Philosopher's Flight by Tom Miller


The Philosopher's Flight by Tom Miller

Author:Tom Miller
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Simon & Schuster


21

Brock, Janet Simone (University of Detroit, 1889). Only competitor to ever sweep the gold medals in the short course, efficiency flight, team pull, and long course in a single year. Coached Radcliffe’s Cup team 1910–24, including notable fliers Pilar Desoto, Gloxinia Jacobi, Michael Nakamura, S. E. Stewart, and Robert Canderelli Weekes. Her development of novel flight glyphs with Jenny Yu, as well as construction of all-metal flight enclosures, axial thrust couplers, and pressurized powder tanks ushered in the modern age of blended philosophico-mechanical aviation. With her brother, Steven, a founding partner of Brock-Sudeste Aerospace.

Who’s Who in the General’s Cup, 1939

THE FOLLOWING WEEK BROUGHT with it further miracles and wonders.

Brock reopened the aerodrome and unveiled our new hovering instructors: ten Corps veterans who’d been pensioned off due to age. All the Radcliffe women who were still interested in flying assembled on the landing field to be divided up among the old crones. One after the next, the instructors stepped forward to call out the names of their trainees and lead them into the aerodrome.

But my name wasn’t on any of the lists. I would have thought I was being singled out again, but Essie was left unassigned, too. We stood alone on the field, looking for some indication of what we were supposed to do.

“Bookkeeping error?” I suggested. Essie chewed at her lip.

An ancient lady, leaning heavily on a cane, hobbled out of the aerodrome. She wore thick spectacles and had a pair of field glasses on a leather strap around her neck. She hadn’t been introduced with the other instructors.

She stopped in front of us and straightened painfully.

“Well, this is a sorry state of affairs,” she drawled. “Out of this entire aerodrome, only two hoverers have dared mewl the phrase ‘Rescue and Evacuation’ in connection with their own names. One has fewer flight hours than any of my great-grandchildren and the other has a phallus.”

Essie blushed to hear such coarse language.

The old woman pointed at her. “You’re Sarah Stewart?”

“Ma’am, I go by Essie, if—”

“That’s a weak name. A child’s name. Stop using it. Now, get kitted out and scout me three different landing approaches to Harvard Square.”

“Ma’am, we’re not permitted to hover between—”

“The Cambridge Police Department has no way to catch you. I want you to land and then record on paper three approaches with compass headings and lists of potential obstructions for each. Give it to me in one hour. Get a bag and get up!”

If Essie was torn about committing a technically illegal act, she overcame her doubts quickly. She trotted toward the aerodrome.

“Run!” the woman bellowed.

Essie accelerated to a sprint.

“And you,” the old lady said. “Let me see if I have this right. Conducted a solo search and rescue mission over rough country in Montana and lifted out three souls. Dove into the river to save a drowning hoverer. Ran a mass-casualty evacuation on zero minute’s notice and flew a goddamn forty-foot stringer. I would say that just about makes you the best male flier in the world, doesn’t it?”

“No, ma’am,” I said.



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