My turn

Airport traffic makes tot happy

2013-07-31T00:00:00Z Airport traffic makes tot happy Jennifer Pallay Times Columnist
July 31, 2013 12:00 am  • 

A plane flies over Hegewisch about every five minutes. If you’ve never spent a Chicago morning watching the sky, listening for that rumble of a jet engine, you’ll just have to trust me. I’m kind of an expert on our city’s flight patterns these days.

My son is obsessed with all things that fly. He loves birds, helicopters and most of all, airplanes. When he hears one coming, he looks up and points yelling “aiiiiiii” as loud as he can.

Sometimes we can’t spot them above the clouds, but his enthusiasm never wanes. When he does see one, he’ll wave to the plane and I’ll say “bye bye, have a safe flight.” Once it’s on its way, he’ll resume playtime for a few minutes until another plane comes along.

With a husband on the Fire Department and friends and family who are police officers, this kid could have access to pretty much any vehicle young boys dream about. I’m still not sure how he caught the aeronautical bug.

As we walked around our neighborhood this weekend, I thought about all our flight connections and realized maybe aviation is more in his blood than I realized.

I attended Wilbur Wright Middle School in Munster, named for one of the fathers of modern day aviation. He and his brother, Orville, flew the first free, controlled flight of power-driven airplane. I’m sure my son would have loved to see that.

It’s still a little early to say where we will send him to school, but one possibility is Chicago Public School’s Virgil I. Grissom Elementary School. It’s named after Lt. Col. Grissom of NASA, the first man to fly in space twice.

The name Grissom is familiar to me because of our shared alma mater, Purdue University. Grissom graduated from the university in 1950 with a degree in mechanical engineering. I even had a few classes in the academic building that is named after him, Grissom Hall.

He’s not the only famous pilot I shared a college campus with. Neil Armstrong and Eugene Cernan, the first and last men to land on the moon, and about 18 other astronauts were also Boilermakers. Amelia Earhart, the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, was a Purdue career counselor and adviser to the Department of Aeronautics. She also has a building named after her, Earhart Residence Hall.

At 18 months old, my son has already traveled by airplane, helicopter, train and sailboat. Who knows where his adventurous spirit and imagination will take him in the future, but I have a feeling he may get there by airplane.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. She can be reached at

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