Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Sky Is Not the Limit

The motto of my high school, in Latin, was: “Per Ardua Ad Astra”, if I recall correctly. Translated into English it is: “To the stars through hard work”.

In those days, reaching for the stars was meant purely metaphorically, and the curriculum reflected that: English Grammar and Literature, Mathematics, Geography, History, one classical language (Latin or Greek) and one or two “modern” languages (usually French and/or Spanish), Chemistry and Physics and Religious Knowledge (mine was a Catholic school). This was cutting edge education of the time and my high school did produce several alumni who achieved varying degrees of “stardom” in various fields and professions in many parts of the world.

It’s more than fifty years and two generations later as I accompany my 13 year old granddaughter to an orientation function for the high school she will be entering when the new school year begins in September.

“The Sky Is Not the Limit” is the theme of this school, but unlike the metaphorical stars I was reaching for, the mission of these students is to master aviation and robotics technologies designed to take them beyond today’s boundaries.

It’s a public school, and it is special. It is not a neighborhood school, drawing its students only from its immediate area. Applicants from beyond the neighborhood are rigorously screened and interviewed. In addition to their teachers, students are mentored by high achievers in the world of space and aeronautics.

The school has a specific focus: aviation and robotics. The site of the orientation left no doubt about that. We assembled, not in an auditorium, but in a cavernous working airplane hangar, cleared for the occasion. Outside, on three sides of the hangar were parked numerous planes, from tiny two seater trainers, to light aircraft, vintage planes, a sleek stunt plane, helicopters and corporate jets. There were constant whines and roars as planes and helicopters kept taxiing in or out and commercial jets landed or took off from the runways nearby.

But what symbolized most clearly the literal thrust of the motto: The sky is not the limit, was the keynote speaker: one of six Blue Angels pilots. This young man with whom students and parents chatted, got autographs and shook hands, would shortly be striding with his five fellow Blue Angels to their sleek, state-of-the-art jet fighters and with a thunderous roar, would be streaking into the sky and performing incredibly dangerous and precise manoeuvres at 700 mph low over Lake Washington.
(If you have seen the movie “Top Gun” you would have some idea of the kind of flying these special pilots do)

His presentation included a short video of the Blue Angels performing. Below are clips of that interspersed with photos of the pilot during his address. In the banner picture above this pilot is second from the right. Above him is his autograph.


Pak Idrus said...

Wow, it is really great to see one of your own to be in such an enterprising and challenging education that our generation could only dream of.

By wanting to do it your granddaughter has cross the first hurdle. The rest is on the way. With determination anything are possible.

They say the power of dream is magic.

BTW did you get the license to fly that one!!Take care.

louis said...

Hello Idrus,

The opportunities for kids now are very encouraging. I just hope the politicians, big business and religions don't handicap their prospects.

Climbing into that cramped cockpit was tough enough, so my sitting there won't get further than being a photo op.

All the best.

Mona Sabrina said...

Hi, Louis!

Enjoyed your AHS/Blue Angels entry.

You know, you look pretty good in that cockpit. AHS is always looking for volunteers. Maybe you be an assistant in ground school class and earn your license along with Morgen!

-- Mona :-)

louis said...

And I guess that along with that irresistible offer to volunteer I get to drive M to school, right? How could I pass that up!

Pak Zawi said...

Mona is lucky to have parents and a grandpa who will support her to join such a field as aviation and robotics. She could either be a pilot or an aviation engineer specializing and robotic aeronautics.
In my family I never dream that any one of my children will become a pilot. As fate would have it, my son is now a pilot flying the Boeing 777. It is not wrong to dream about anything and it will soon be realized when you put your heart and mind to it.
I would like to wish Mona the best of luck and may she succeed in realizing her dreams.

louis said...

Pak Zawi,

Thanks for your wish for success for my granddaughter.

Your and my children and grandchildren have been fortunate to be born into a world where there are fewer and fewer limitations and barriers to their success, and they have been rewarding us by making the most of their opportunities.

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