Two Stories about Flying
His First Fight & Black Aeroplane
Summaries and Question – Answers
His First Flight
Liam O’ Flaherly
The timid seagull suffers because he is afraid to be on his own
The young seagull was left to its fate. His two brothers and his sister had taken to their wings the previous day, leaving the youngest sibling in the ledge. The young one was afraid to accompany his elder ones.
He did try to fly, but couldn’t muster enough strength or courage to do so. The vast deep blue sea stretched miles and miles.
He tries to fly, but the fear of failure holds him back
He made some efforts to take off by lurching forward and flapping its wings, but his courage failed him. He feared his wings couldn’t sustain him for so long a distance. He retraced his steps to spend the night in the hole.
His parents vainly try to prop him up
His father and mother had come around to make him fly, but he stayed put in the ledge. Flying was too risky for his tender wings, he thought. His parents chided him for his timidity. They told him no one would be there to feed him, and he would starve to death on the ledge, but all these stern warnings fell in his deaf years. He remained on the ledge.
He looks on sadly as his parents fly away
Just a day before he had seen his parents giving flying lessons to his siblings. They flew, dived to catch fishes, and again soared to the sky displaying their flying prowess with ease. The young timid seagull even saw his older brother swallow a herring that he caught after a successful dive. It was his life’s first. His parents, overjoyed to see the feat, circled the sky crackling joyfully. There was a plateau standing at a short distance from the ledge. The whole family flew there and strolled over it. The timid young seagull had to swallow the taunts they threw at him.
The day was progressing, making the Sun brighter and hotter. The heat sapped his energy faster because he hadn’t eaten since the night before.
He begs for sympathy, but is ignored
He wanted to draw the attention of his family to evoke their pity. He came to the edge and raised one leg, and his two eyes one after another. He pretended to fall asleep, out of exhaustion, but none in the family bothered. His brother and sister were enjoying a break, while their father was preening his feathers. Only his mother was looking at him. She was poking her beaks into a fish held on the ground by her feet. The young seagull wished he could do the same. The food appeared so mouth-watering.
With no food, he has to endure hunger
The duck was hungry. He wanted food. He beseeched his mother to get her some food. She made a lot of noise to catch the attention of his mother, but she was not quite responsive. After a while, he found his mother swimming towards him with a chunk of food held tight in her beaks. The mother had other plans.
The mother throws a bait, holds a fish close to him
She swum very near to the duck, but didn’t quite reach him. He was clueless, but he was desperate. He paused a while, and lurched forward to snatch the fish piece from his mother. The piece of fish was tantalizingly close to him, but still beyond his reach.
He jumps at the fish to grab it, but falls down
Hunger was biting him. Finding no hope of getting the fish, he lurched forward, but fell down towards the blue deep water below. For about a minute, he felt it was the end of his world. He would perish in water of the sea, but something strange happened. Involuntarily, his wings had spread apart, and he could feel wind rushing past their edges and his stomach.
He is in his wings, finally
He flapped his wings nervously, and felt he ws gaining height. Moments later, he began to soar higher and higher into the sky. Making joyful sounds, his mother flew past him. He screamed joyfully to greet his mother. Soon his father joined the celebration of the maiden flight. His brothers and sister joined the party in the sky. They did some acrobatics in the air.
The duck felt confident now. The sulking had ceded place to self-assurance. Quite elatedly, he too did some acrobatics.
He comes down to the water to float, as the whole family applaud him
He began to flow towards the ocean now, away from the ridge. He looked sideways and cawed exuberantly. His family members had swooped down to float on the green sea water. They beckoned him to come down and join them. He lowered his legs and landed on the water effortlessly. He was nervous to find himself in this strange situation. In fear, he wanted to fly up and escape, but he was too tired to muster enough strength to flap his wings. He remained afloat on the water. His family members were at his side to applaud him on his first flight!
Thinking about the text
1. Why was the young seagull afraid to fly? Do you think all young birds are afraid to make their first flight, or are some birds more timid than others? Do you think a human baby also finds it a challenge to take its first steps?
Answer – The young seagull was timid and nervous. This made him frightened to fly. Most birds begin flying naturally. Very few among them might sulk at the idea initially, but they get over it soon. Human babies also must be hesitating to stand on their feet, but such hesitation goes away soon.
2. “The sight of the food maddened him.” What does this suggest? What compelled the young seagull to finally fly?
Answer – The seagull was left to starve on the ridge for one or two days. This made the hunger pangs unbearable. He was compelled to fly, so that he could snatch the fish from his mother’s beak. It was an act of desperation.
3. “They were beckoning to him, calling shrilly.” Why did the seagull’s father and mother threaten him and cajole him to fly?
Answer – Flying is so natural to a seagull. It helps him to gather food and survive. His father and mother prodded him to fly, because it was time for the young seagull to be on her own and fend for itself.
The Black Aeroplane
The author is piloting his Dakota aircraft over the French skies in the wee hours of the night. He is heading to his home in Britain where he would enjoy a holiday with his family. The stars are alight, and the moon is just pooping out from the eastern sky.
The plane flies past Paris
The plane was in the vicinity of Paris as the city’s light became visible. The pilot called the French air traffic control to identify himself and inform that he was heading towards Britain.
The Paris air traffic controller answered back, and gave a 12 degree course correction to the pilot. He did as suggested.
He reckoned that he would in his home in England in time for breakfast. He felt elated as everything had gone fine that far.
The narrator sees a turbulent sky ahead
When he had left behind Paris by about 150 kilometers, he saw storm clouds ahead of him in the sky. The black clouds looked ominous. They were humongous in size. The pilot knew he couldn’t get past the black mountain of cloud by flying over it, nor could he make a detour to skirt it, as he didn’t have enough fuel.
Going back to Paris was an option, but the thought of having a joyful family breakfast appeared to overwhelm him.
A foolhardy move to pierce through the black cloud
He decided to take a risk, and flew headlong into the storm. It turned completely dark. He could see nothing outside through the window. The plane became unsteady in the air. More worryingly, the compass and all other instruments in the cockpit began to show erratic readings. The pilot sensed danger and decided to head back to Paris, but the air traffic controller there didn’t respond to his frantic calls. The radio became dead too. Now, he knew what danger lay ahead, as he flew with no navigational help.
A mysterious plane appears from nowhere
Happily for him, he saw another plane flying by, quite close. The pilot waved his hand asking the author to follow him. It was a god-sent help, he felt. He began to trail the other plane.
The flight continued for about half an hour. The pilot wondered where he was being led to. There was not enough petrol in his plane. This made him really nervous.
But, in minutes, the plane in the front began to descend. The pilot followed him too. In a few moments, he emerged out of the cloud, and could see the runway lights. He was near the airport, finally. He knew he could land now, and be out of danger.
He looked out to find the aeroplane that had guided him out of the cloud, but the black aeroplane was nowhere to be seen. He had vanished out of sight.
The escort plane has left no clue before vanishing
The pilot went to the control room to inquire where he had landed, and where was the other aircraft that had guided him. The woman in the counter was clearly surprised. She said, there was no other aeroplane in the sky then because of the cloud, and his was the only one.
Thinking about his escort, the pilot was clearly bewildered. He had no clue who, from where, and why the mysterious plane came to save him.
Thinking about the text
1. “I’ll take the risk.” What is the risk? Why does the narrator take it?
Answer – The sky ahead looked heavily clouded and stormy. Flying under such conditions are fraught. But the narrator decided to fly through the hostile sky. This was the risk. He took the risk because he wanted to enjoy a nice breakfast with his family.
2. Describe the narrator’s experience as he flew the aeroplane into the storm.
Answer – The narrator’s plane encountered total darkness, and unsteady flying conditions. The flight became bumpy and most crucially, the compass and other instruments in the cockpit went haywire.
3. Why did the narrator say, “I landed and was not sorry to walk away from the old Dakota…”?
Answer – The flight on board the Dakota had given him a harrowing experience. He was so relieved to have landed safely. So, he felt not the least sorry for leaving behind the plane that had given him such a scare.
4. What made the woman in the control centre look at the narrator strangely?
Answer – The airport had no traffic during the time because the sky around was stormy and dangerously cloudy. So, when she was asked about some other aircraft flying during that time, she was both puzzled and surprised.
5. Who do you think helped the narrator to reach safely? Discuss this among yourselves and give reasons for your answer.
Answer – Some mysterious air craft appeared from nowhere , and escorted the narrator’s plane to a safe landing. Curiously, there was no trace of this plane. This is very intriguing.