It all started on a winter’s day in Montevideo back in 1957. My parents and my uncles and aunts took my brothers, my cousins and I to the beach.
We were kicking a ball around in the sand while the adults discussed in two groups, men and women. The sky was overcast but it was warm enough to enjoy the outing.
Suddenly two objects flying side by side and making a very loud noise came out of the clouds. We all looked up and saw something we had never seen before. The two objects came low towards us and then climbed up and disappeared into the clouds. Us kids were a bit surprised. The men started arguing loudly. The women got down on their knees and started praying. Soon, the men called us all and took us back to the cars. We drove home, not too far. The adults gathered around the radio and with much alarm spend the rest of the day waiting to hear news about these unidentified flying objects.
Eventually they found out that the US Air Force had flown in two F-80 jet fighters to sell to the Uruguayan Air Force.
My father was embarrassed by his ignorance. The fact that human technology had made him think that extraterrestrials had come to Earth changed him. From then on he took it upon himself to make sure that this never happened again. He did all he could to expose me and my brothers to the latest science and technology by giving us books, magazine subscriptions and anything else he had access to.
I became fascinated with this subject but one thing that I could not forget were those jet fighters flying out of the clouds making so much noise. For years I drew small images of an F-80 from different angles and I started having occasional dreams of me getting into an F-80. In my dreams I would get into the jet fighter but it would not take off.
In 1969 I was accepted to the US Air Force Academy and very soon I got a ride on a T-33, the training version of the F-80. As many of the “doolies” that got their first jet fighter ride I threw up on the dashboard and when we landed I had to clean it (a bit of a tradition and I never again threw up flying).
After this first exhilarating ride I had one more dream in which I got into the plane but this time I took off and flew. The strange thing is that I never had this dream again.