On one balmy October morning as I was trudging, disgruntled, out of my morning Mechanics of Materials (MoM) class, I happened upon one of my other instructors. I was in no mood for small talk, frustrated with my current academic struggles, but we chatted nonetheless. I soon asked him where he was off to. With a huge grin he replied, "I'm going to meet Captain Burbank!"
My jaw dropped, "You mean, the Captain Burbank? As in the Coast Guard captain, aviator, astronaut?"
"Well of course," he laughed, "Dan and I are old buddies from when he used to teach here at the Academy. He's in the parking lot right now."
Captain Burbank had come to the Academy to give the engineers and aviation club a presentation during lunch; he also attended Aviation Day that Saturday. In a sad attempt to bottle my excitement, I asked Doc Adrezin if I could meet him before my next class. He nodded and gestured for me to follow. As I stepped outside I could see a figure in a royal blue flight suit approach us. I squinted against the sun as Doc Adrezin waved to him. Moments later, I found myself in the presence of one of my childhood idols. Doc Adrezin introduced us and I shyly expressed my gratitude for the inspiration he has been. Not only did he ask me to call him "Dan," but he also gave some much needed words of wisdom. Doc Adrezin had joked about how Captain Burbank should tutor me in MoM, and although I was a bit embarrassed, I admitted that the class was indeed a struggle for me. With a confident, knowledgeable tone Captain Burbank said, "If it's not a struggle, then it's not worth doing." He then smiled and wished me luck. Shaking his hand, I thanked him. We parted ways, and I ventured off to my next class standing a little taller than before.
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