When I stopped and thought about my love of airplanes and my love of being a dad/granddad, I discovered there were so many ways a dad is just like an airplane. It turns out that a military aircraft is an especially great metaphor to describe a father who is also a great dad!
Let’s say your child is a pilot and you, Dad, are his aircraft. As a pilot, he can’t get anywhere as quickly and easily as is possible with your help. Here are father analogies to the main elements of an airplane.
- You have the engine (ability) to propel him to his destination
- You lift him, his spirits, and his confidence with your wings (encouragement)
- Your fuselage and cockpit (support and shelter) will protect him from the elements and provide a safe working environment
- Your rudder (advice) will allow him to turn (change) when corrections are necessary
- Your elevators (honesty) will allow him to control his ascent (overconfidence) and descent (lack of confidence)
- Your instruments (talents) will give him the ability to find his destination
If you are a really fancy aircraft (or a really good dad!) you have even more support systems that are invaluable to help your child complete his mission
- Your oxygen system (cheerleading) allows him to achieve very high altitudes
- You provide two-way communication with your radios (availability)
- Your navigation systems (knowledge) provide guidance
- Your radar (experience) helps him to avoid conflicts
- Your on-board computer (brain) is loaded with necessary information to proceed
- Your landing gear shocks (your presence) will ease his landings
And there is one last thing your pilot needs from you, his aircraft, to be used only in the direst of situations--that being a parachute/ejection seat (a safety net). Your pilot must be trained to never abandon his mission unless his safety is in jeopardy. In other words, every effort to get out of a tough situation should be made before giving up and bailing out. But dads should always be available in emergencies.
For the non-aviation-enthusiasts, I used words like propel, lift, protect, control, destination, change, achieve, communication, guidance, avoid conflicts, information, ease, and safety. All words that could be used to describe the relationship between a father and his child.
It may sound like the aircraft is doing everything for the pilot, but nothing will happen without his action! The pilot decides where to go. He starts the engines. He handles the controls. He decides what route to take, and he lands where and when he desires. The aircraft cannot do any of this for him. Although critical, the aircraft can only be a facilitator and support system.
Now a kid without a dad can still get places, still succeed. It’s a lot tougher to get where they want to go, or to even know where to go--but many do! They have to work much harder and use their imaginations. Those are the kind of kids, like burgeoning pilots, that will hang around airports and listen in to the conversations. Maybe they will find an aircraft (mentor), that will take them for a ride, because they see the determination of a young pilot wannabe.
Unfortunately, many more kids fail from lack of support of a fatherly figure. Those who fail just can’t overcome the extra burdens of self-starting, the persistent failures without someone to pick them up or teach them life lessons, lack of confidence, or lack of any vision of what it’s like to fly. So dads are a lot like airplanes. Not all of us are sleek F/A-18 fighter jets, but that doesn’t matter.
- All military aircraft have the support systems necessary to help their pilots. And powerful they are.
- All dads have the support systems necessary to help their own kids! That's "The Power of Dadhood"!