Monday, June 20, 2011

“V” as in “Victor”

Just before I left for SIL, I purchased my plane tickets. I must say, I’m pretty excited about this—to actually have an itinerary and know when I’m (supposedly) leaving and when I’m (supposedly) arriving makes this whole journey just a bit more concrete.

But, Minnesota to Papua New Guinea is a long flight. 25 hours, in fact, without layovers (and crossing the International Dateline doesn’t help either). It’s a good thing I like flying.

Here we are, on our backs, in a shell of the space shuttle...
Coming from a family of pilots and mechanics, I’ve always been surrounded by aviation—even before I was born. My first flight occurred when I was six weeks old, and I’ve flown so often since then that by grade school, I had memorized the entire flight safety talk that happens before take-off (you know, the one about the exits and the oxygen masks and what to do when the cabin loses lights). Navigating airport terminals seems rather natural and a close connection is simply an excuse to dive into the crowd of people, perfecting my high-speed weaving and dodging technique. My dad and I made it a tradition to visit the EAA Airshow in Oshkosh, WI as often as we could; for 10 days, it’s the busiest airport in the world with seemingly every type of aircraft you can imagine!

But, little did I know then that aviation could even impact my life through linguistics :)

Whenever I find myself standing in front a desk, giving my name to a receptionist, I automatically begin spelling… “R, I, V as in Victor, A, R, D.” When I was little, I thought this was how everyone gave their last name—didn’t everyone say as in Victor if they had the letter “v”? After all, if I don’t, inevitably there is spelling confusion.

When I was six or seven, I vividly remember the shock of hearing my paternal grandmother give her last name at a video store. “R, I, V as in Valentine, A, R, D.”

Valentine! Where did that come from? On that subject, where did Victor come from?

Victor is actually the word used to represent the letter “v” in the Aviation Phonetic Alphabet. Each letter corresponds to a word to prevent confusion when pilots and control towers are talking to each other.

Even pilots need linguistics!

As I now look ahead to a life lived in airports and traveling on tiny planes (the main means of transportation in PNG), I smile, seeing patterns the Lord established early in my life that could only be His design. 

Because, after all, I will always spell it as R, I, V as in Victor, A, R, D.