Phillip the caterpillar wasn’t like all the other bugs. He spent all of his days trying to build an airplane.
Although the other bugs thought he was crazy, and even his closest friends laughed at his dream, he never gave up. He wanted to fly more than anything in the world. And he tried everything…
He tried using leaves and sticks. He tried using roots and berries. He even tried using a carrot.
But nothing worked. Every night he went to bed thinking up new ways of making a flying machine.
But one morning Phillip woke up and didn’t want to go around the garden collecting new materials to use and thinking up new ideas to try. Instead, he had a strong desire to stay put and build a cocoon.
Never having built a cocoon before, Phillip was surprised at how easy it was. He almost didn’t have to think about it at all. It was very different than trying to build an airplane.
Phillip couldn’t quite explain it, but he felt like he would emerge from the cocoon with his best idea yet and finally be able to build a working airplane!
Excited to get going, Phillip sealed himself inside the cocoon and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited some more.
It was dark in the cocoon and very small. Phillip couldn’t see a thing. He kept thinking up new ideas and ways to fly, but he wasn’t sure any of them were “the one”.
After 15 days inside the cocoon, Phillip had had enough. He couldn’t take it any longer. He didn’t know any more about how to build an airplane than when he had got in. In his mind, this whole cocoon business felt like a giant waste of time.
Phillip kicked through the cocoon and stepped outside forgetting that the cocoon wasn’t on the ground. Phillip braced himself for the pain of falling to the ground, and was surprised when it didn’t come. Tentatively, he opened his eyes and looked around. When he looked down, he couldn’t believe his eyes! His foot was just floating in the air. Only, it didn’t look like his foot. At least, not the one he remembered. Nor did his other foot. He looked himself all over and was shocked at what he saw. He had wings! His foot wasn’t floating in mid-air, he was flying!
Flying was everything he ever dreamed of and more! As he flew all around the garden he was surprised at how sad all the other bugs looked. As if they too wished they could be soaring through the air. Even the bugs who had laughed at him and called him crazy.
At first, he thought they deserved to be sad for not being nice to him before. But then, a little voice in the back of his head told him to go and try to make them feel better. He knew that was the right thing to do.
He flew back down into the garden and tried to show them how to build a cocoon. Although a lot of them followed his instructions exactly, and tried really hard, they just couldn’t do it.
He could see in their faces how much they wanted to fly too, and he wanted to help them. Flying was amazing and he thought that everyone should be able to do it!
Suddenly, he got an idea. Promising the other garden bugs that he’ll be back as soon as he can, he took off. He decided to fly all around the world and ask every single flying bug, animal, and person as many questions as possible about flying. He was going to finally figure out how to build an airplane – only this time for the other bugs, and not for himself.
He asked the birds. He asked the flying squirrels. He asked the bees. He even asked the people he saw flying in the big human airplanes, but they must not have been able to hear him because they never answered back. Finally, when he had enough information, he returned to his little garden patch and started gathering supplies.
All the other bugs saw him hard at work and even offered to help, but he shooed them away. He wanted it to be a surprise. After a full week of work, he proudly rolled out the contraption he had spent his whole life trying to build: a fully functioning airplane.
All of the bugs were happier than they’d ever been before. He gave each of them a ride in the airplane and then taught them how to fly it themselves.
They were so grateful to him for building a plane just for them, and they immediately began to apologize for making fun of him. They knew it wasn’t a nice thing to do and they regret it now, especially because he was so nice to them when they didn’t deserve it. He accepted their apology, because he knew that everyone makes mistakes and does things they wish they hadn’t.
A few months later, Phillip took off again to travel the world, but not before promising to come back and visit soon. He visited so many cool places and saw all different kinds of bugs, but after a while, he started to miss his home. When he returned to his garden patch, he was surprised to see an entire airport between the tomatoes and the turnips, and not just any airport, but the Philip Memorial Airport. And right in front of the airport was a statue of Phillip the caterpillar, the small ground bug who dreamed of flying and eventually made, not only his own dreams, but everyone’s dreams come true because he refused to give up.