By Don Perry
I am a retired aircraft mechanic and as such I have a little different take on things in the sky. When people here in Ada see a shadow pass before them on the ground, they automatically think "hawk or buzzard." When I see a shadow race across the ground, I think airplane and listen for a healthy engine sound. A trained ear can tell.
At night I see the stars and automatically seek out Polaris, the North Star. Some would say that the thing racing from west to east in the night sky is an UFO, but I know that it is probably a satellite or, perhaps, some space debris that is losing the fight with gravity. I have seen some wonderful sights in the night sky. The Milky Way, viewed from a high bluff in the hill country of Texas, was a spectacular sight I will always remember.
The crash on re-entry of the Space shuttle Columbia was a horror that I also witnessed. Both great and small sights can be seen in the sky, but my time here grows short and I continue to watch. Always, I watch the sky.
The Red Planet: A Pomegranate Explosion
By Martha Rhynes
In the 1940s, Ray Bradbury became a prolific writer of fantasy and horror stories, usually published as "pulp" fiction. A few of his short stories ("The Man Upstairs" and "Homecoming") appeared in elite magazines. In searching for new ideas for stories, Ray often wrote prose poems (descriptive paragraphs) about life on Mars. Since boyhood, he had been fascinated by Edgar Rice Burrough's famous character, Buck Rogers, and space voyages.
In 1950, a publisher who recognized Bradbury's talent offered him a contract to combine space-story fragments into a novel, The Martian Chronicles. The task seemed insurmountable to Ray until he remembered Sherwood Anderson's episodic novel, Winesburg, Ohio, and John Steinbeck's use of prose poems as "bridges" between chapters in The Grapes of Wrath. "The Red Planet became a pomegranate explosion," said Bradbury, and he completed The Martian Chronicles in three months. The publisher marketed The Martian Chronicles as science fiction, a
Ray imagined (romanticized) a beautiful setting on the "Red Planet" with canals and a life-supporting atmosphere, a mythical place. Humans in space ships migrate there to escape real social and political problems of the 1950s: civil rights, atomic war, misuse of technology, communism, and environmental pollution. Unfortunately, the migrants bring these same conflicts with them to Mars.
Science fiction writers Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke admired Bradbury's imaginative short stories, but they found only a tenuous connection with science and technology in The Martian Chronicles. Clarke did concede, however, that Bradbury "expanded the minds of millions of readers who didn't realize there was more to the universe than one small planet orbiting a second-rate star."
Actually, only one "Chronicle" might be classified as science fiction, "There Will Come Soft Rains." It is the story of a robot-controlled house that self-destructs. Bradbury did not wish to be placed in the sci-fi category because it excluded him from a wider, mainstream market. However, his publishers insisted. Later, he accepted many awards as a science fiction author.
Bradbury met astronauts and scientists at NASA who had read The Martian Chronicles and were inspired by it. He also wrote a script for Walt Disney's Space Exhibit: EPCOT Center in 1976. It describes Earth's voyage through space and time. He wrote magazine articles, stage plays, screenplays, television scripts, poetry, ten novels, forty short story and poetry anthologies, and five non-fiction books.
Before he died on June 5, 2012, this "Voice of the Space Age" and "Poet of the Pulps" asked that the following epitaph be carved on his tombstone: "Here's a teller of tales who wrote about everything with a great sense of expectancy and joy, who wanted to celebrate things ... even the dark things because they have meaning ... just the joy of being alive for another day, and being able to celebrate a particular sense of that day that you didn't celebrate the day before."
By Mel Hutt
“Flying like a bird” is a term often used when a novice starts to aspire to being a pilot. As a teen, I had a job in a factory paying the big amount of fifty-two and one/half cents an hour. It was, however, sufficient for me to hitchhike to the airport and be able to pay for a lesson.
The experience was great. My first flight was in a Piper cub with a powerful sixty-five horsepower engine. The instructor gave me a ride and mad a couple of maneuvers to see if I could take it. I loved it. Later, when I had to practice stalls and spins, the thrills became testier. Later, these maneuvers were taken from the course.
Something real important was to check out the craft before even considering starting the engine. I managed to complete three and one half hours of duel time but would need at least eight hours to qualify for solo permit.
My first landing when I was in control I hit the runway so hard that I bounced the craft high enough that the instructor hit the throttle and we continued to keep flying. The second time around I managed a decent landing, making my instructor happy.
I still admire the Piper Cub. It was used in many low flying stints during World War Two. It was used a lot to pick up the wounded in the battle fields where it could. Today the helicopter is more proficient for that task.
I still remember that fondly. That fall I joined the Navy but never was able to do any piloting again.
By Ken Lewis
Mostly things we can’t touch, but often wish we could, our hands passing, effortlessly through a featureless canvas of slate gray nothingness. But wait, it’s air.
Clouds drift along currents of an invisible ocean. They change their shape, depending on the mood of the sky; sometimes tranquil, sometimes fierce.
We shouldn't limit our “looking up” to clouds, though. Night time beacons beckon…I like the sound of that-- “Beacons beckon.” I recently read that astronomers had discovered an exoplanet in a vast system of numerous suns, which makes me think that the Creator put it into motion, a Creation that spawns life sustaining possibilities wherever possible.
Like it was said in the movie Contact: “… that’s an awful waste of space.”