Between homework and dinnertime, Astrid made use of the new sitting room to discuss a few things with Miss Scacchi.
“I’d like to leave for Detroit on the 17th if possible,” she said. “That way I can come home on the 21st, in time to watch the Nova 4 launch and with plenty of time to finish my Christmas shopping.”
“Would you like me to arrange a first class ticket?”
“No, I’ll take a company plane. In fact, I think I’ll fly it. The guys have been bugging me to get my pilot’s license. This will give me enough hours and will count as a cross-country solo flight. I would really appreciate it if you could make sure that I have everything I need for the trip.”
“Of course. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“How about helping me set up a girl’s weekend with Denise, Valerie, and Valerie. I’d like to do something special next weekend—really fancy it up, with invitations and everything. I think I’ve been neglecting them lately, especially Denise.”
“Leave it to me, Astrid.”
“Um, one more thing. I need to get ahold of Governor Hardgrave and ask him to give me an age waver for a student pilot’s license.”
“I’ll call him right away,” said the assistant.
The first part of the week seemed to stretch on forever, as Astrid was looking forward to the first test flight of Ariel, her space plane. When the scheduled time arrived for the test, Thursday afternoon, she stepped out onto the tarmac of the Maxxim airfield in her flight suit. Just as she had told her friends weeks before, Astrid would not be piloting the craft, though she felt more than capable. Instead, two Maxxim test pilots Hugh Chase and Carl Williams would be at the controls. The girl inventor would be along for the ride though, as navigator and flight analyst.
As soon as the three of them climbed aboard and strapped themselves into their seats, Chase called the control tower for clearance. Once they received the go ahead, he ignited the engines. Ariel rumbled to life.