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The Plummet Family

My name is Willie Plummet. Most of my friends at Glenfield Middle School think my full name is William—but it's not. It's really Wilbur. I'd just as soon they didn't know. It's truly a dorky name, if you ask me. And yes, I do have a big brother named Orville.

Orville and Wilbur. How lame can you get?

You see, my dad's crazy about airplanes. Especially older ones. He owns Plummet's Hobbies, the big hobby shop on Main Street here in Glenfield. He has all these gliders and remote control airplanes hanging from the ceiling in the shop, and he belongs to some kind of model airplane club that meets once a month to talk about new kinds of glue or something. He gets a bit nutty at times, but he's a pretty cool dad.

Dad says he caught the airplane bug from his great-grandfather, Jedediah Plummet. Dad called him an early aviator, but he was really one of those guys who strapped wings to his arms and jumped off bridges and barns. Maybe you've seen the film of him running along the roof of a big house, cranking a machine that spins above his head like a giant eggbeater. In the film he leaps off the roof and comes crashing down through an oak tree—probably one of his better landings.

I'm not sure how many flights Jedediah Plummet attempted, but in most of the pictures in our family album, he's in some kind of wheelchair, or at least on crutches. He always has a certain look in his eye, though—as if he believed in his heart that the next attempt would be the one.

Dad says people like Jedediah paved the way for Orville and Wilbur Wright. I'm not sure I believe him, but I have to admit I've never seen a picture of either Wright brother on crutches—so maybe they did learn something important from all the Jedediah Plummets of the world.

Anyway, that's how I got the name Wilbur. Both Orville and I have red hair and faces full of freckles—we got that from Dad too. My sister, who can't wait to go away to college, is called Amanda. She has a normal name because Mom named her.

Maybe I inherited the flying bug from Jedediah Plummet too. As soon as school let out for the summer, I started working on a new kind of flying machine—my own invention. I made it from all the leftover airplane parts Dad was going to throw out at the store after his spring cleaning. I made it in the back storeroom of Plummet's Hobbies. My dad lets me keep a workbench and some tools there. Felix and Sam—my two best friends—call it the lab. Sometimes we work together on projects. That's when things get really interesting. But this particular project was all mine.

It took me a couple of weeks to get the flying machine the way I wanted it. I decided to launch it from the big hill east of town. I told Felix and Sam to meet me there at three in the afternoon. I told them they'd better not be late for the historic unveiling and launching of the Skyrunner 1000.

Excerpted from:
Invasion from Planet X by Paul Buchanan and Rod Randall, copyright 1998. Used by permission. All rights reserved.