Flying Ships

I loved this story about Luigi Prina, his friend Eugino and their flying ships. Eighty-three years old with the spirit of a boy, the spirit of someone still caught up in the magic of imagination

o-BOATS-570This story reminded me of a dream I had one night. I was visiting Italy, a remote part of the country that still had many ancient buildings. As I walked through the streets, I came to a canal where there were traditional boats. I got in one of the boats and began to row down the canal. As I traveled, the boat began to rise and fly through the air, up above the cobbled streets, through the stars. This was, no doubt, influenced by my trip to Venice.

imagesImage reminiscent of my dream by Vincent Besanceney

In Egyptian mythology, Ra traveled across the sky and the underworld (Duat) following the sun in two solar boats, Mandjet (morning boat) and Mesektet (evening boat). There’s also a Russian fairy tale (ferry tale?) called The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship. Click here to read a synopsis of the tale. The Trobianders of the south Pacific talk of a flying canoe which is central to their mythology. And of course, there are the star ships of science fiction, including the famous Starship Enterprise.

The reality of flying boats is much less magical and romantic. Here’s one that I’ve seen a few times in my life:

boatThis is a Canadair CL-215, photo from the Wikipedia site on Flying Boats. It differs from a sea plane in that it has a “purpose-designed fuselage” that gives it buoyancy. I live, surrounded by forests, which means in summer, forest fires. These boats have the power to land on water, scoop up a load of water and take off again to dump it on a fire. This summer, fires have been intense. People have been evacuated from their homes. One evening, smoke came through our screened doors and windows so thick that my throat burned.

I’m always amazed at the courage of the fire fighters, especially the Rapattack teams that repel from aircraft into the burn sites. Unlike city fire fighters, forest fires are a lot harder to contain and there are no fire trucks or hoses to support their efforts. Just them, their equipment and the occasional dump of water from the flying boats. My gratitude to the fighters who guard our homes here in the mountains.

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