English Language & Literature
Chapter 3 Two Stories About Flying
I. His First Flight
Thinking about the Text
Why was the young seagull afraid to fly? Do you think all young birds are afraid to make their first flight, or are some birds more timid than others? Do you think a human baby also finds it a challenge to take its first steps?
The young seagull was afraid to fly because it was his first flight and he feared that he might fall and hurt himself. He thought that his wings would not support him while he attempts to make his first flight.
Yes, I believe it’s quite natural and obvious that doing something for the first time can be fearful and a bit challenging. Certainly, all birds must be afraid to make their first flight.
Likewise, a human baby is also afraid and finds it very challenging when he/she takes his/her first steps or when he/she learns to crawl or walk on his/her own without any support.
“The sight of the food maddened him.” What does this suggest? What compelled the young seagull to finally fly?
The young seagull failed to muster up courage in order to make his first flight. His family constantly upbraided him to take the plunge, but to no avail. They let him stay on the ledge until he was ready to take the plunge. He was left there for more than twenty four hours and was very hungry by then. Due to this hunger, he was ultimately compelled to fly. Furthermore, his hunger intensified when he saw his mother tearing at a piece of fish that was lying at her feet. He cried desperately begging her to get some food for him. Seeing this, when his mother came towards him with food in her beak, the little seagull screamed with joy and anticipation. However, she stopped midway and the young seagull wondered why she did not come closer to him. Maddened by hunger, he dived at the food in his mother’s beak. At that moment, he fell outwards and downwards into the great expanse of sea beneath the cliff. He was terrified and could feel his heart stood still. But soon enough, he felt his wings spread outwards and he realized that he could fly like others. Therefore, his hunger overpowered his fear and finally he made his first flight joyfully.
“They were beckoning to him, calling shrilly.” Why did the seagull’s father and mother threaten him and cajole him to fly?
The young seagull’s parents were constantly beckoning him and tried everything to make his first flight. However, he was very reluctant to take the plunge due to his fear of falling down from the cliff. He looked at his brothers and sister who flew away, but he was hesitant to make any effort. Due to this reason, his whole family had left him alone on his ledge and threatened and persuaded him to fly, but all efforts went in vain.
Have you ever had a similar experience, where your parents encouraged you to do something that you were too scared to try? Discuss this in pairs or groups.
Yes, I had a similar experience while trying to learn how to ride a bicycle when I was in the fourth standard. Initially, I found it difficult to balance myself and fell down often which developed a fear of cycling in me. Unable to overcome the fear, I gave up cycling, but my parents would always cajole me to try and practise cycling whenever I get time. My father would hold the bicycle from behind to help me balance myself, but whenever he left it, I would lose balance and fall down. Gradually as I practised every day, my cycling skills improved and I could ride it without my father’s support from behind and this also developed my confidence to a great extent. Thus, I overcame my fear of cycling and started riding a cycle confidently when I practiced it on a daily basis. Now, I use a cycle while going to and coming from school every day.
(Note: Students can write this answer as per their personal experience.)
In the case of a bird flying, it seems a natural act, and a foregone conclusion that it should succeed. In the examples you have given in answer to the previous question, was your success guaranteed, or was it important for you to try, regardless of a possibility of failure?
Yes, It is natural for everyone to face some problems initially while trying to learn or pick up a new skill. Many a time, due to the fear of failure, we are reluctant to perform a particular task or attempt something new. In case of the seagull, his parents constantly cajoled him to fly. Similarly, when I was learning to ride a cycle for the first time, my father always persuaded me to learn cycling. Hence, at that stage, it was important for me to overcome my fear and learn cycling for my own good.
Yes, my success was assured because if one is focused and determined to achieve something then success is guaranteed. Moreover, we are all aware of the famous adage, “Practice makes a man perfect”.
We have just read about the first flight of a young seagull. Your teacher will now divide the class into groups. Each group will work on one of the following topics. Prepare a presentation with your group members and then present it to the entire class.
- Progression of Models of Airplanes
- Progression of Models of Motorcars
- Birds and Their Wing Span
- Migratory Birds — Tracing Their Flights
Write a short composition on your initial attempts at learning a skill. You could describe the challenges of learning to ride a bicycle or learning to swim. Make it as humorous as possible.
II. The Black Aeroplane
Thinking about the Text
“I’ll take the risk.” What is the risk? Why does the narrator take it?
The pilot of Dakota DS 088 plane was keen to reach home in England to spend a holiday with his family. On the way, his plane was engulfed in a huge storm of black clouds. So, he decided to fly straight into the storm as he did not want to miss the opportunity to meet his family for a good big English breakfast. Thus, he took the risk of flying through the storm even when the visibility was almost nil.
Describe the narrator’s experience as he flew the aeroplane into the storm.
As the pilot (author) entered the big storm of clouds, his plane started to jump and twirl in the air. He could not see anything outside the plane as it was engulfed in the midst of storm clouds that were completely black. When he looked at the compass and other instruments, they had stopped functioning due to the turbulent weather. It was a fearsome and frightening experience for the pilot. The fuel tank of his plane was also almost empty and he could not fly more than ten minutes in it. Suddenly out of nowhere, he saw another black aeroplane with no lights on its wings appeared by his side and the pilot of that plane beckoned him to follow. The narrator obediently followed the other black plane that was having no light. He followed the strange black aeroplane without any choice through the storm and soon landed on the runway safely.
Why does the narrator say, “I landed and was not sorry to walk away from the old Dakota…”?
The pilot was delighted to land safely after being caught in a dense storm of dark clouds and was not sorry to walk away from the old Dakota. He was filled with gratitude for the pilot in the other black aeroplane and desperately wanted to thank him for helping him in such a fearsome situation. He was indeed feeling sorry that he could not thank his benefactor enough for helping him land on the runway safely.
What made the woman in the control centre look at the narrator strangely?
The woman in the Control Centre looked at the narrator strangely because when the narrator mentioned the black aeroplane that helped him land safely on the runway. She gave him a surprised look and told him that no one except the narrator’s plane was in the sky during the storm. Even the radar reflected the narrator’s plane as the only one in the night sky.
Who do you think helped the narrator to reach safely? Discuss this among yourselves and give reasons for your answer.
There is no definite answer to express who was the unknown pilot who helped the narrator. We can assume that probably it was the narrator himself who overcame his fear in the midst of a storm as no other plane was visible in the radar except the narrator’s Dakota DS 088. In that frightening situation, the pilot might have fantasized that someone came to his help. However, it is evident that he was a good pilot himself who was brave enough to fly through a dense and turbulent storm and land on the runway safely.
Thinking about Language
I. Study the sentences given below.
(a) They looked like black mountains.
(b) Inside the clouds, everything was suddenly black.
(c) In the black clouds near me, I saw another aeroplane.
(d) The strange black aeroplane was there.
The word ‘black’ in sentences (a) and (c) refers to the very darkest colour. But in (b) and (d) (here) it means without light/with no light.
‘Black’ has a variety of meanings in different contexts. For example:
(a) ‘I prefer black tea’ means ‘I prefer tea without milk’.
(b) ‘With increasing pollution the future of the world is black’ means
‘With increasing pollution the future of the world is very depressing/ without hope’.
Now, try to guess the meanings of the word ‘black’ in the sentences given below. Check the meanings in the dictionary and find out whether you have guessed right.
Question.1. Go and have a bath; your hands and face are absolutely black. ________________________
The taxi-driver gave Ratan a black look as he crossed the road when the traffic light was green.___________________________
The bombardment of Hiroshima is one of the blackest crimes against humanity. _______________
Very few people enjoy Harold Pinter’s black comedy. ________________________
Sometimes shopkeepers store essential goods to create false scarcity and then sell these in black. ____________________________
Sometimes shopkeepers store essential goods to create false scarcity and then sell these in black. – The meaning of ‘black’ in this sentence refers to hoarding of goods by shopkeepers to sell those goods at a higher price later.
Villagers had beaten the criminal black and blue. ________________________
II. Look at these sentences taken from the lesson you have just read:
(a) I was flying my old Dakota aeroplane.
(b) The young seagull had been afraid to fly with them.
In the first sentence the author was controlling an aircraft in the air. Another example is: Children are flying kites. In the second sentence the seagull was afraid to move through the air, using its wings.
Match the phrases given under Column A with their meanings given under Column B:
|1. Fly a flag||– Move quickly/ suddenly|
|2. Fly into rage||– Be successful|
|3. Fly along||– Display a flag on a long pole|
|4. Fly high||– Escape from a place|
|5. Fly the coop||– Become suddenly very angry|
III. We know that the word ‘fly’ (of birds/insects) means to move through air using wings. Tick the words which have the same or nearly the same meaning.
Have you ever been alone or away from home during a thunderstorm? Narrate your experience in a paragraph.