难忘时光—为我插上翅膀的人(转载)

译者按:挥手之间,播下梦想之种;几经努力,实现飞行之梦;满怀感激,难忘昔日之情;几度巧合,幸会之后存不幸……
  The Man Who Made Me Fly
  By Warren W. Davis 胡德良/译注
   I was just a young boy, barely five years old, when something happened that changed the course of my life. It was an afternoon in 1939, and I was playing near the house on my grandfather’s farm near Martinsburg in southeastern Iowa. 当我只是个刚满五岁的小男孩的时候,发生了一件事情,改变了我的生活轨迹。那是1939年的一天下午,在爱荷华州东南部的马丁兹堡附近,我正在祖父的农场上的农舍边玩耍。
   The plane was flying low, passing directly overhead, and I could clearly see the struts3 connecting the wings to the fuselage4, the wheels with their tiny black tires, the bright black NC5 identification number under the wing. With all its components blended in perfect proportion, it seemed to be a living, breathing entity6. 那架飞机正在低空飞行,恰好在头上飞过,我可以清晰地看到连接机翼和机身的撑杆,带有黑色微型轮胎的轮子,机翼下面还有醒目的美国民用飞机认证编码。飞机所有的部件以完美的比例浑然天成,俨然一个活灵活现的生命体。
   That evening at the supper table I told my parents about the amazing airplane I had seen. Dad said next time he went to Ottumwa for supplies he might take me; the airport was on the way and I could see a whole row of Cubs. 那天晚上在餐桌旁,我把看到那架奇妙的飞机的情况告诉了父母。爸爸说下次去奥托姆华买生活用品可能要带上我;机场就在途中,我可以看到一整排的“幼狐”飞机。
   My dad was as good as his word and a few days later took me to the Ottumwa grass-strip airport9. I was totally overwhelmed at the parade of clean planes with their noses tilted up as though they were always ready and willing for another flying adventure. Someday, I vowed, I’ll have one of my own. 我爸爸言行一致,几天后带我去了奥托姆华的草地机场。只见那一排整洁的飞机,机头翘起,好象随时都作好准备,乐意再次历险飞行,让我彻底为之倾倒。我立誓:有朝一日我要拥有一架属于自己的飞机。
   The flight left my mother shaken. But I returned home that night with flying in my blood. 那次飞行吓得母亲直发抖,而我那天晚上回到家里,血液里却流淌着一个飞行梦。
   I was totally hooked on flying. We were living near Peoria, Ill., and the countryside was dotted with many little airports and farm strips12 to be explored. I had a lot of fun hopping from one to another. 我对飞行达到了完全痴迷的程度。我家当时住在伊利诺斯州的皮奥利亚附近,那里的农村地区散布着很多的小型机场和有待勘探的农场简易机场。从一个机场到另一个机场的飞行给我带来了很大的乐趣。
   Finally, in a back yard near my home, there it was: an old 1946 J3, yellow with an N number under its wing, just as I remembered. 最后,在我家乡附近的一所后院里,找到一架1946款旧式J3型黄色飞机,机翼下面也有国家民用飞机编码,跟我记忆中的一模一样。
   Now I could fulfill a lifelong ambition: I wanted to fly a Cub over the precise spot I had stood 40 years before, waving to that unforgettable little plane from the front yard of my grandfather’s farm. 我现在可以实现一个终生的夙愿了:我一直想开一架“幼狐”飞越那个确切的地点,40年前我曾站在那里,从祖父的农场前院,朝着那架无法忘怀的小飞机挥手。
   In the distance I sighted the livestock barns and the windmill. The house had long since been torn down, and the barns were deteriorated14. But as I passed over, an image flashed to mind of what I must have looked like, standing in the yard, waving at the man and his Cub. I smiled at the memory of a small boy who had once vowed, Someday that will be me up there. 远远望去,那些牲口棚和那座风车房历历在目。风车房早已被拆毁,而那些牲口棚也是每况愈下。可是当飞越那个地方时,脑海里闪现出我当年的形象:站在农场上,朝着那个人和他的“幼狐”挥舞着手臂。回忆起一个小男孩曾经发誓:终有一天飞在上面的将会是我,我不禁露出了微笑。
   My wife and I now live in El Cajon, Calif., where my Cub has a comfortable hangar15 at Gillespie Field. A few weeks after my story appeared, a visitor came by the hangar and left his card with a request that I call. His name was John Tucker, a retired chief pilot for Air Cal. 现在,我和妻子住在加州的埃尔卡洪,并且在那里的吉莱斯皮机场拥有一个宽敞的飞机库。我的文章发表了几个星期之后,有人来过机库,留下了名片,并请求我给他打电话。他叫约翰塔克,是加州航空公司退休的高级飞行员。
   Excited, I called John. Within minutes we were comparing notes. His life had been dedicated to aviation. He began his career flying J3 cubs at the tender age of 17. During World War II he taught glider flying, then flew for the legendary Flying Tigers16 in China. After the war he became a commercial airline pilot, as well as an accomplished aerobatics17 pilot performing in many air shows. 我感到非常激动,给约翰打了电话。在几分钟的时间里,我们一直在对比手记。他将一生都奉献给航空事业:17岁时,年纪轻轻的他就开始了飞行生涯,驾驶J3型“幼狐”飞机;二战期间,他教授滑翔机的驾驶,后来在中国为著名的“飞虎队”执行飞行任务;战后他成为民航公司的飞行员,同时他还是一名卓有成就的特技飞行员,进行过多次空中飞技的展示。
   July 27, 1991, was a beautiful summer Saturday in Southern California. John Tucker, fit and trim18 at 69, hopped in the front seat of my Cub with the agility19 of a much younger man. The air was smooth as we lifted off and started our gentle climb. I was flying from the rear seat and could see by his broad smile that my front-seat passenger was thoroughly enjoying the flight. 在加利弗尼亚州南部,1991年7月27日星期六是个美丽的夏日。69岁的约翰塔克,看上去身体健壮,他跳进我的飞机前座上,所表现出的敏捷就好象是一个年轻许多岁的人。在平稳的气流中,我们起飞并进行和缓的攀爬。我在后座上驾驶着飞机,通过他那开怀的笑容,可以看得出我这位前座上的乘客非常喜欢这次飞行。
   “Love to,” John’s voice came through the intercom. “I haven’t flown a J3 for 25 years.” “很乐意,”对讲机内传来了约翰的声音,“我25年没有驾驶过J3型飞机了。”
   John’s voice came on the intercom22 as we approached Mount Helix. “You can take her on in. I want to see if I can locate my house.” 当我们飞近希利克斯山的时候对讲机里又传来约翰的声音:“你可以接着往前开,我想看看能否找出我家房子的位置。”
   Soon we were back on the ground, and John hopped from the front seat. “This has been a great day for me,” he said, grinning. “You have a beautiful airplane here―thanks for letting me fly it.” 不久,我们返回地面,约翰从前座上跳下来。“今天对我来说是极其美好的一天,” 约翰笑着说,“你的这架飞机非常漂亮―谢谢你让我驾驶它”。
   We started through the first one. The dates were all in 1939 and early 1940. He had, in fact, flown many times on a route directly over my grandfather’s farmhouse. The flights were always in a yellow Cub, with the NC number under the wing, just as I had remembered. After reading those logbooks, and seeing how the dates and routes matched up so perfectly, I was convinced it was him. 我们开始彻头彻尾地翻看第一本,日期全部是在1939年和1940年初。事实上,他曾很多次沿着我祖父的农舍上方那条航线飞行,所驾驶的飞机也总是一架黄色的、机翼下面带有美国民用飞机编码的“幼狐”,跟我当时的记忆毫无二致。看完这些飞行日志后,我发现日期和航线都完全吻合,我相信当年的飞行员就是他。
   John had been only 19 at the time and had not yet received his commercial license. I told him it was a good thing my mother didn’t know his age or status―if she had, I never would have gotten that ride! 当时的约翰只有19岁,尚未获得民航驾照。我告诉他,母亲不了解他的年龄和资格情况是件幸运的事―要是她了解这一切的话,我那次肯定坐不上飞机!
   My first feeling was of profound sorrow. But his family told me they found comfort knowing he had spent his last hours doing what he loved. 我首先感觉到的就是深深的悲伤之情。然而他的家人告诉我,他们得知他用生命的最后的几个小时做了自己所喜爱的事情,他们感到欣慰。
  
  Notes注释:
  1.目睹,看见。
  2.美国派珀公司1937年设计、1938年上市的一种轻型飞机。“幼狐” (Cub)最初是用来命名泰勒公司的E-2型飞机的,派珀公司创始人威廉 派珀(William Piper)收购了泰勒公司后,沿用了“幼狐”的这个品名。J3为公司产品中的一个型号。
  3.strut支柱,撑杆。
  4.(飞机的)机身。
  5.N为美国飞机注册码的首标;C代表Civil,说明为民用飞机。
  6.实体。
  7.驾驶员座舱。
  8.树脂玻璃。
  9.草地机场,适合小型飞机起降。
  10.美国福特公司生产的三引擎飞机。1925年,该公司制造了第一架福特三引擎飞机,并出售给美国首家商业航空公司。
  11.美国阿隆卡公司在二战后生产的一种双人座轻型飞机。阿隆卡公司于1927年至1951年期间制造飞机,“冠军” (Champion)和“首长” (Chief)为其两个主打品牌。
  12.farm strip 坐落在农场上的简易机场。
  13.enchanting迷人的。
  14.deteriorate使越来越差。
  15.飞机库。
  16.飞虎队,全称为“中国空军美国志愿援华航空队”,成立于1942年4月,1946年4月二战结束后解散,为取得抗日战争和世界反法西斯战争的胜利,立下了不朽功勋。其创始人是美国飞行教官克莱尔李陈纳德将军(General Claire Lee Chennault)。
  17.飞行特技。
  18.身体健康的。
  19.敏捷。
  20.coordinate使协调。
  21.柔和的。
  22.对讲装置。
  23.取回。
  24.logbook飞行日志。
  25.巧合。
  26.be predestined to (do)注定……
  译自:美国《读者文摘》

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