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Maiden Flight
by Daryl Baldwin

I amble to the Spitfire and conduct pre-flight checks. Guns in place. Propeller fixed since the last fight. Paintwork touched up. Rudder and ailerons in working order. The cockpit seat needs adjustment. No time – got to fly. I give the instrument panel a light dusting. Good as new. Time to find out what she can do.

I see the runway from the control tower. Grass and allotments surrounds the concrete. A woman waltzes among the runner beans while her husband stabs the earth with a pitchfork, loosening the crop of potatoes. A church spire looms in the foreground attempting to touch the sky. Hills complete the horizon. Overhead are early signs of a summer storm; a strong north wind whips at the trees.

Air speed good and in the right direction. Excellent. Ready for take-off. Adrenalin courses through my body. Breathing shallow. Do pilots feel like this before flight? I need to find out.

She floats like a kestrel on thermals; hovering before her plummet to the runway. The light frame crashes hard, nose landing first and spinning onto its wings, leaving a trail of debris strewn across the airfield.

When Mike finds his model he’s going to kill me.