Phil Makes a Superman

The electric wheelchair rolled up to the cliff. A fourteen year old boy handled the chair’s joystick.  His hair was dark, he wore a Superman t-shirt and had a backpack full of college physics books. He  looked into the horizon from the cliff. His father stood beside him. It was a moonless night, and the stars sang brightly.”

“Do you believe me?” asked Phil. “Do you think I have the technology to let you fly like Superman?”

“No,” replied the boy.

“He does son,” said his father. “As an engineer, I checked the science myself, And you will not be able to deny that you can fly as fast as Superman in this device.”

“Here’s the deal,” said Phil, “I need to cover your eyes and set up the device. After you fly on the device you will be able to adjust your body to do the same effects that the device does whenever you want. You can fly like Superman every day if you want to. But there are limitations to the technology. But we’ll go into those after I impress you.”


“Now we are NOT going flying off the cliff just yet. You are going to just hover about four feet for now. And then we are going to really fly.”

Phil blindfolded the boy and he and his father placed him on a harness suspended on a scaffold. His body was horizontal to the ground and suspended about four feet high. From this position, he could easily extend his arms into the classic Superman flying pose off the cliff itself. The ground appeared hundreds of feet below and the sky was clear and starry. With little effort, he could see ONLY the stars.

Phil removed the blindfold and Jason gasped from the harness.

“Okay, now we are just hovering. You aren’t really flying yet.”

The boy stared off the cliff into the space below and above and started getting choked up.

“I see the science sir,” he said to Phil. “The turn of the earth and the direction of the earth are aligned in the same direction at this moment so all motion is going AWAY from the cliff and toward  the bay. I am flying though space at the fastest speed a human has ever gone, around 68,000 miles an hour. That IS Superman speed!”

“I didn’t think I would fool you long,” said Phil. “But I do have a touch for the dramatic.”

Phil pushed play on the MP3 player and the song “Thus Spake Zarathustra” filled the air.

The boy waited until the climax to raise his arms from the harness.

He flew. He flew because he knew he was flying through space in that direction.  If the earth were removed, he would literally be flying like superman at thousands of miles an hour. It was real. It was not a fantasy. The wind was kind and even blew his face hard for special effects – typical for the time of year.

Afterward, Jason turned from the harness and said, “Just let me stay here. You guys can take a walk. I’m um … flying here. It’s kind of personal. And right now, I’m heading to THAT star.”

He pointed to the star most aligned with the vector of his body.

The arms went up again and a cry filled the air as his father and Phil walked away.


His eyes never left the stars for way over an hour.

It’s a big sky after all. And one must pay attention at 68,000 miles an hour.

And, of course, Dad and Phil had to have a go.

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