Anjeli eased the stick just a little to the side and her father’s biplane banked in a wide lazy circle around the city. Down below, a shining river twined between tall skyscrapers, some with airships docked at their tops. The colorful ladies' hats speckled the walkways along the streets and in the green patches of park, reminding her of paintings she’d seen where everything was made up of tiny dots of color. This was the world as only the birds and the angels ever saw it. And the pilots.
“Time to bring her in, Anji,” her father called from the seat behind her.
Anjeli pretended not to hear, turning their tail toward the city and instead flying toward the ocean, where it stretched like a sheet of brilliant silver, crawling with waves. At a second prompt from her father she finally turned the plane around and started looking for the airfield. There it was, a patch of green crossed with dirt runways just to the east of the city.
The sound of the engine changed, and the plane dipped suddenly.
“What’s wrong?” Anjeli barely had time to ask before the propellers stopped turning.
“Daddy!” she screamed as the plane began to stall. Why wasn’t he taking the stick? She should have felt his firm hand guiding the controls from behind her.
“Now we find out if you’re a pilot or not,” Her father’s voice shouted from behind. “Take her down.”
“The engine!” she shrieked.
“She’s still got wings. Take her down.”
She’s still got wings, but she needed speed. Anjeli pushed the stick forward and put the plane into a dive, faster and faster it sped, until she could level it without stalling. The airstrip was still too far away, the ground below too thickly forested, but there was a road. A road full of motorcars and carriages, headed for the city.
It was the only place to land.
Anjeli steered the speeding plane toward the road, and as if by some miracle, the traffic below saw her coming and started to get out of the way. She thought Moses might have felt the same way when he saw the sea parting before the armies of Israel. Horses were neighing and horns honking as she skimmed the tops of trees, and then was flying over the road itself.
Up ahead, a huge hay cart wasn’t getting out of the way. The driver couldn’t see her with all of that hay behind him. The horses were running, but not fast enough. Her landing gear clipped the top of the cart, sending out a blast of hay in all directions. The plane bounced upward, then with a horrible jolt smack down into the road. At first Anjeli was sure the hay cart that was still bearing down on them from behind would crush them flat, but as the plane rolled down the emptied road the hay cart swerved off and toppled over.
The plane finally rolled to a stop, and people came running from every direction to help Anjeli and her father out of the plane. Anjeli's whole body ached from the impact, but everything still worked, nothing was broken, not even the landing gear on the plane.
Her daddy grabbed her in a big bear hug. “You’re a pilot,” he laughed.
Nothing was ever going to scare her again.