"If you're not landed by dark we'll bring you down with a 12-gauge shotgun," he promised over his shoulder.
BOOTED OUT OF THE NEST
So this is how they do it, I thought bitterly. No warning. Even a cold-blooded chicken hawk inches a fledgling out of the nest. He doesn't just boot it out with no choice but a good landing or a broken neck.
Well, I don't have to stand for it, I told myself, and so help me, I took off from the ground in that airplane with no thought but to get up in the air where I could think things over. If I decided it was no good, I would simply come back and solo another day. The human mind can be shockingly stupid sometimes—and all of a sudden the ground was 50 feet below.
There was no birdlike feeling about this. All I remember is an incredible loneliness. No terrestrial predicament puts you so completely and awfully in your own hands as a solo flight in a little airplane. The doting relative, the generous friend, even the kindly stranger, have been pushed hopelessly beyond your reach.
"My gosh," I thought, "this is nothing but a form of temporary suicide."
The spasm of loneliness became so monumental that I began to feel almost ennobled by it and regretted its passing as I found myself automatically performing the little cockpit chores preparatory to landing. By the time I was on the ground I was really disappointed at how routine it had been.
"Congratulations," the instructor said, coming up with a grin and sticking his hand out.
Oddly, my hand wouldn't come loose from the stick. I pried it free, finger by finger.
"Thanks," I said, only the word didn't come out. I reached to shake with him, lost my balance on the door sill and grabbed for the strut. My hand slipped off and I nearly went flat on my face in the dirt.