Boom slid out of the group and walked over to join the wolf. “You do not have to keep serving as Marmaduke’s test pilot, you know. The project may be for you, but I am quite accustomed and ready to serve. I know from experience that even when the safety measures keep you entirely unharmed, crashing out of the sky can still make one nervous for a while afterwards.” Boop patted the wolf on the shoulder, bending down a bit to reach. (Patting the wolf on the head would have been easier, but it might have come across as more condescending than comforting under the circumstances.)

“Thank you for the offer,” the wolf said after a deep breath. “But I might as well get used to falling out of the sky now as later. Even when the harness is pronounced complete, I imagine that circumstances will crop up that bring me plunging down from time to time. Devices can fail from other things besides design flaws, after all.”

Marmaduke stood up, pulling his wrench out of the motor and buttoning up the flight harness. “Ready to go, we just need to get fuel and test pilot into the harness.”

The wolf moved forward to strap himself into the harness, while Marmaduke fetched the fuel from the cart.

Everyone seemed to want to check, and double check that everything was fastened correctly before, the flight test was ready to begin.

“Are you ready to fly, Mr. Wolf?” asked Marmaduke.

The wolf nodded, not quite trusting his voice.

Marmaduke led the llama cart out of the practice ring while Boom herded the rest of the observers out of the test site practice ring, closing the gate carefully before signaling to Moozie that they were ready to go.

As the safety officer for the day’s test flight, Moozie had the ultimate authority on when things could be started, and under what circumstances it must stop immediately. Moozie looked around to make sure everyone was at a safe distance and prepared.

Helena hugged her first aid kit in case someone got hurt. Aurora had taken charge of the fire extinguisher, just in case.

“Just take things slow and steady. The changes I have made might have changed the way it handles,” said Marmaduke.

Marmaduke looked to Moozie, so did the wolf. Moozie said, “Mr. Wolf, you may start your rotary engine. Please keep watch for my signal before attempting a take off. That will give me time to verify everyone is at a safe distance.”

“I copy that,” said the wolf. The wolf used his snout to bump the engine toggle on the control panel mounted beside his head.

The engine on the helicopter harness roared to life. As the small, efficient engine built up its rotations per minute, the blades spun faster and faster.

The wolf could feel vibrations course through the harness frame and vibrate his body as noise increased. The wolf kept his eyes on Moozie, concentrating on the job as hard as he could, so that even the wolf could not tell if some of the shaking might be nervousness instead.

Moozie watched the startup sequence, making certain everything functioned as it ought. Then he looked to make sure everyone was clear of the take off zone. When he was sure all was well, Moozie gestured with his left poof in a clear signal to take off when ready.
The wolf nudged the throttle and the rotor picked up speed, generating enough lift to raise the whole wolf and contraption off the ground.

The wolf hovered briefly a dozen body lengths (his body length) off the ground. Then after adjusting the controls and gaining courage, the wolf set off toward the river which served as his designated flight path.

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