First Steps into the Air

Charli Mills latest prompt is here

July 13, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an unexpected landing. It can be acrobatic, an unplanned move or created into a metaphor. Go where the prompt, or chickens, lead.

As people who read my blog will realise that, amongst many other things, I am fascinated with the early history of flight. By definition flight involves landings, often the most dangerous part of the whole affair.



The men looked at the strange contraption and smiled, they didn’t laugh as that would upset Sir George.

“Climb in there Thomas.” He said, pointing at the small boat with wheels. Thomas grinned at his companions as he sat down and held the tiller.

The men took the ropes and pulled, the machine trundled across the grass, getting faster and faster, then –

The men stopped, open mouthed, the machine was flying.

As the world’s first glider landed Thomas staggered out white faced, he wasn’t laughing now.

“Please sir, I want to give notice, I don’t want to fly again.”


Thomas Appleby was the coachman employed by Sir George Caley, and was the test pilot of his pioneering glider. On landing he is said to have given notice saying ‘he was employed to drive coaches not fly through the air.’


And seventy years later



“I saw light under the wheels, it left the ground.”

Geoffrey grinned, “Then let’s see if it will fly properly.”

He turned back to the aeroplane, a complicated construction of wood wire and fabric. Buttoning up his tweed jacket he climbed up and nodded at his assistant.

The propeller swung and the engine started. He opened the throttle and the aeroplane bounced across the field, suddenly the bouncing stopped, he looked down, he was flying.

He rose to about fifty feet, then turned slightly.

Suddenly he had a thought – I got up here, but how do I get down?


In 1910 the great aircraft designer Geoffrey De Havilland built his first flying machine at Highclere castle. He told the story of managing to get it in the air, then working out how to land after he had taken off for the first time!




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6 responses to “First Steps into the Air

  1. Your posts are always full of interesting information!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not going to argue with you. Over here we are schooled about the Wright Brothers. When I toured NZ and Australia they had their own first fliers. No matter nationality or exact date, your flash says what is most important… how, after getting into the air, does one come safely down?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A great pairing of flight frights! So much thought is given to getting up, but not down. I don’t blame Thomas for quitting; that was asking too much of a coachman!


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