Evasion 101

Rudolph 2014 ©

     On a cool, crisp, and clear sunny day, several eager Hawklings gathered under the canopy of a bright blue sky. This was their last week of flight school, and they had gained a new sense of confidence that bordered on cockiness.

     Any recklessness was tempered by Mama Hawk 5’s stern lectures about ever present dangers. Mama Hawk 5 would say, “We can go from predators to prey in a heartbeat with the arrival of Eagles into our territory. We must be vigilant, vigilant, vigilant! This is not some kind of laughing matter Hawkling 3! Do you copy? I said do you copy?”

     “Roger Mama Hawk 5, affirmative.” Hawkling 3 was constantly being reprimanded. He had a hard time focusing on the lessons. His mind wandered in imaginary flight, dreaming of flying higher and faster than any other Hawk in history. He dreamt of new twists, tucks, and daring dives.

     “This is Mama Hawk 5. Are you paying attention Hawkling 3? While you are daydreaming, you are missing vital lessons that could one day save your life. So, pay attention Hawkling 3! Do you copy?”

    “Roger Mama Hawk 5. Roger Wilco, out.” But too often it would just be a matter of minutes before Mama Hawk 5 was reminding him again, and again, and again.

    Hawkling 3 had a hard time focusing on lessons. There were so many beautiful distractions to zoom in on. Looking downward his keen sight could see every crack, crevasse, and cranny. There were no places to hide for the prey that constantly caught his fancy. Fading back he saw intricate patterns of vegetation painted on a dazzling panoramic landscape.  Gazing upwards gleaming rays of sun coaxed him to soar higher and higher.

     On this particular day, Hawkling 3 found himself even more distracted than usual. The Sun’s rays pulled him closer like celestial angelic threads. He soared higher and higher across the vast blue sky. Suddenly, he had the realization that he was no longer with the others. He had flown out of formation which was a clear violation of class rules. He frantically looked around but there was nobody to be seen. He was all alone. Or was he?

    Suddenly, out of the corner of his left eye he caught sight of a fully grown Eagle swooping down on him. He veered to the right but a claw of the dreaded Eagle still managed to clip off one of his feathers. “Ouch! That really stings!”, cried Hawkling 3. 

     In an instant, the Eagle was back on his trail. “Mama Hawk 5! Mama Hawk 5! I am being chased by a vicious Eagle. SOS! SOS! SOS! Do you copy?” But he was far too out of range for anybody to hear his desperate call.

     The Eagle had almost caught up with him just before he went into a steep dive.  Swooping past him the Eagle followed, and also went into a steep dive.  Faster and faster he accelerated downwards. The land below appeared to be rushing up closer and closer. The g-force was almost unbearable. Feeling light headed, he was afraid he was going to pass out. “Just hold on a little longer…. a little longer.” This was by far the longest and fastest dive he had ever done. He had no idea how much further he could go.

   Just before he blacked out, he spread his wings and arching his back he thrust himself upwards vertically. The Eagle could not make such a quick reversal, and swooped lower before pulling out of its dive. His first evasion worked!

    Looking around he could see the others in the distance coming closer, but they were still too far out of range for communication. He spotted the Eagle below him racing upwards. He only had a few seconds to think. “Oh, what should I do now?” Then a bold idea sprang into his mind. “I’m going to do a 360 degree loop. That will shake him!”

   The only problem was he had never done this before. This was an advanced move only performed by seasoned highly skilled Hawks. Yet, there was no time for hesitation. He plunged downwards. He had only visualized himself doing this in past dreams, and now he was actually doing it. He looked back hoping the Eagle was gone, but to his horror the Eagle was right on his tail, for the Eagle was a highly skilled pilot.  “What more can I possibly do?” he frantically thought.

     If he tried to veer right or left while in a loop, he risked spinning wildly out of control. If he didn’t do it, he was going to be caught. He faked like he was going to veer to the left. The Eagle didn’t buy it. He faked to the right. The Eagle was almost upon him. This time he really veered to the right coming out of the loop at a 40 degree angle. He violently rolled over and over. Then he spread his wings and regained control. The Eagle continued to loop and flew past him. Again, his evasion had worked, and this time for good!

    Looking back he could see that the Eagle had now spotted new prey. A rabbit darted across a field and the Eagle was after it. “Phew!” he exclaimed in relief. By now the others were closer. “Hawkling 3! Hawkling3! Do you copy? This is Mama Hawk 5. Do you copy?”

     “Yes, Mama Hawk 5! I hear you! Affirmative.” His excitement at being back with the others soon turned to fear. For Mama Hawk 5 was a strict disciplinarian, and he had clearly violated the class rules. “Yikes! I’m in for it now. Maybe I should turn tail and make a run for it. But where would I go?”

     Before he could think about it further, the others and Mama Hawk 5 were circling around him.  Mama Hawk 5 hovered in front of him and said, “Hawkling 3, where did you ever learn those amazing maneuvers? Wherever did you learn them?”

   “I learned them in my dreams Mama Hawk 5. I learned them in my dreams.” Everybody was silent, not sure what Mama Hawk 5 was going to do or say next.

   “Well, I know now who is going to replace me as Chief Flight Instructor one day.” The others puzzled, looked around at each other.

   “Who?” asked Hawkling 3.

   “You.” Said Mama Hawk 5 as a tear streaked down her beak. “I have never been more proud of you, and I am so very thankful you are still alive. I know now how very special you are.”

    Hawkling 3 was overwhelmed by a sense of honor.  To be Chief Flight Instructor of Hawks is an extremely important position. After all, what is more important to Hawks than flight?

   “Now, pay attention Hawkling 3. Would you please pay attention?” implored Mama Hawk 5.

   So Hawkling 3, with a new sense of responsibility, was determined to do just that.

by – Christopher Rudolph

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