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Birthplace of Flight

Posted on 23 Apr 2017 @ 6:49pm by Lieutenant JG Felix Langston

Mission: Shore Leave
Location: Kitty Hawk, NC

Lt. Felix Langston had just reached the summit of the incredibly large sand dune. The wind had been strong that day and his hang gliding backpack wore him down. He brushed the sand out of his curly black hair and off his lightweight maroon trousers and off his black v-neck shirt. He looked down to see his brothers Ray and Petey struggling to keep up. Felix chuckled to himself as he called down at his brothers on the dune below.

"What's the matter, Mr. All-American?" he called out. "Did you just let your dorky older brother beat you to the top?"

"Shut up, Fe!" Ray called out. Ray was a bit larger than Felix, standing about two inches taller and with a few more pounds of muscle to boot. He kept his hair closely cropped and wore gym shorts and a tank top to show off his muscles to no one in particular. Raymond Langston's football workouts had concentrated on short-term bursts of energy, not prolonged dune climbs with shifting sand underneath his feet. With each step, Raymond trudged up the side of the dune, wind whipping in his face and sand blowing into his eyes. He kept a firm grip on his glider pack and one hand near the dune to steady his balance as he made his way to the top. "Two-a-days don't start for another week, Fe," he said. "Why are you insisting on punishing me during summer break?"

"It builds character," Felix said, stifling a laugh. "Besides, I thought you might enjoy the three mile hike over the dunes; it's great scenery."

"Nothing but sand, man," Ray said through gritted teeth. He continued the climb.

Meanwhile, Petey was having the same issues as Ray, if not worse. Petey's small frame indicated that he was athletic, but he had spent most of his summer break playing video games, not having gone running in weeks if not months. He wore a loose fitting t-shirt and pants that were rolled up past the ankle. His hair was longer, naturally curling outing whipping in the wind. Petey's hands dug in the sand as his feet dragged through the sand up the dune. "Please tell me you have some water," Petey called out as Felix looked down from the summit. "I think I finished mine about a mile back." Petey's mouth hung open as another gust of wind blasted sand into it. He grimaced as he spat, trying to get the grit out of his mouth.

Felix stifled another chuckle as he watched his brothers scale the dune with their hang glider packs. Felix's Starfleet and boxing training had kept him well-conditioned enough to climb to the summit relatively easily. The two brothers finally came to the top and sat down, dropping their packs into the sand beside them.

"Okay, history lesson," Felix said as his brothers audibly groaned.

"Summer. Break." Petey's words came through forced breaths. He grabbed Ray's water bottle and took a deep swig, coughing as the water mixed with the sand in his mouth. He made another face as Ray laughed at his misfortune.

Felix rolled his eyes and started again. "Which of you two numbskulls knows why this place is important?"

"World's largest collection of sand," Ray said sarcastically. Petey elbowed him.

"Does it have anything to do with the packs we're carrying?" Petey asked.

"Still haven't answered my question," Felix said, growing ever tired of the brothers' antics. "I'll give you a hint, early Twentieth Century."

"Wright Brothers," Ray said, rubbing his arm. "This is the place they had their first flight, isn't it?"

"Not just their first flight, but humanity's first flight," Felix said.

"Ugh, you're sounding like Dad now," Petey said. Ray took the opportunity to lock Petey in a headlock and give him a noogie.

Felix sighed and shook his head. "Philistines," he said. "We're standing in one of the greatest places of achievement known to man and all you can do is complain about the hike or mess around with one another."

"Geez, Ms. Francisco," Ray said, referring to their social studies teacher they all had at Le Bon Middle school. "All right, we'll do it your way."

"Good, because I'd hate for you to have to walk all the way back to the shuttle without having done something cool," Felix said. "I'll beam those backpacks back in a second if I have to."

"And now you sound like Grandma Etta," Petey said.

Felix gave a sly smile and continued. "This place was where humanity took its first steps towards the cosmos. Think about it: the Wrights flew their first flight in 1903 and just a century and a half later, Zephram Cochrane had his first warp flight. Dad took me here when I was younger and he told me that if humanity as a whole can make those giant leaps in that short a time span, there's no telling what we can do in the future. I want y'all to understand that too."

"That's it?" Petey asked, somewhat crestfallen.

"Also, there are some really good thermals for hang gliding today," Felix said. "Hence the backpacks."

"Oh right," Ray said. "How do you work these contraptions?"

"Well," Felix said. "First you need a running start down the hill. Then you push the button on the strap, and leap into the wind while using the handles to steer."

"Sounds simple enough," Ray said.

"Then y'all should have no trouble at all, mon amis," Felix replied. With that, he stretched his arms over his head and bent down to loosen his hamstrings. He strapped his glider pack to his back and securely fastened it. He walked himself over to an edge of the dune and looked over the steep incline of the tall sand dune.

"Well, at least there'll be some kind of cushion should I bail," he said. He looked back at his brothers. "Y'all ready?"

"Ready as we'll ever be," Ray replied. He and Petey positioned themselves for a run down the hill. The brothers were evenly spaced with Ray and Petey flanking Felix.

"Alright guys, on the count of three," Felix said, preparing himself. "One." He dug further into the sand. "Two." He squinted. "Three." On that count, the boys sprinted toward the edge as fast as they could. Felix pressed the panel on his pack strap and immediately found himself with a nine foot wingspan on his back. He ducked down as he ran, feeling the wind begin to lift himself off the ground.

The heat rising from the dunes did its work as Felix felt himself lift off the sand and into the air. A huge grin spread across his face as he felt himself flying just above the sand. He looked over and saw that his brothers had lifted off as well. The troubles they had earlier seemed to melt away as they all weaved back and forth above the beach's sand and surf.

Felix turned and wove across the beach's surface. Something felt so natural about gliding, like he had done it his entire life. He glanced back to see his brothers weaving in and out of each others' flight paths. Felix felt his glider running out of air to glide on and so began his descent. He dove down gently towards the sand and raised himself up, coming to a running landing while his glider neatly folded up back into his backpack. He turned around to see Ray and Petey do the same.

"Excellent show, boys," Felix said. "Wanna go again?"

 

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