Flying these days doesn’t seem fun at all. I’ll start off with that statement because the rest of this can only get better as I continue. With all of the misery that comes with flying, it’s almost impossible to find the positive side of an aviation adventure to get you from point a to point b. From shrinking seats to bad service, we’ve watched what was once an elegant voyage cascade into a myriad of frustrations and retweeted mishaps. Is it so long ago that flying was like the below picture?
But are we sometimes, excuse the line, flying blind. Have we perhaps diluted ourselves so much that we walk onto the gangway with low expectations that we can only hope improve as we take flight? I, myself, have been guilty of sorts of hammering at the position that flying has become a necessary evil. What I have mistaken to take into account is that my ramblings are based on prior experience instead of looking at the experience with fresh eyes.
Kids Can Teach us a Lesson
Not long ago I found myself on a short flight with a duration of 2 hours. Even with that small window of time I transitioned into full defense mode on all of the things that could work against us before we deplane. Deep in the cattle call of a southwest flight, I soon meet my seatmate for the short trip. A young girl of maybe 6 or 7 who received the dreaded middle seat, while only a few seats over, her brother sat. He was maybe a few years older.
What happened next may have sparked an emotion in me I haven’t felt for some time. As the plane begins its taxi and takeoff I look at the young lady next to me who is in awe of the passing lights of the runway. She busily snaps as many pictures as she can of the silhouetted lights reflecting off of the plane’s tale. A quick glance over, I see the older brother staring at me. The stare was one of amazement.
The plane was at full speed, rocketing down the runway at what in his young mind must have been supersonic speed. Mixed in with the stare was a smile that beamed across the aisle. And, even though I was a stranger, I knew that feeling and that smile. I obliged with a wide-eyed smile myself and simply gave him a thumbs up. It occurred to me that the marvel of flight had not disappeared, it was simply hibernating. My mind shot back 35 years to a time when I also felt the impulse to look around at the many strangers, wondering if they were feeling what I was feeling.
Looking through some personal pictures once back home I found something quite timely. Simply look below at a couple pictures I discovered I had taken of my two young girls on one of their first trips. One is a bit blurry but it certainly doesn’t detract from the point. We’ve all experienced that exhilaration, we just simply forgot. With many things in life, the magic seems to escape us and flying has turned out to be no different.
Try to Remember
It would serve us well maybe to think back to a time when flying seemed impossible, until you felt those tires lift off the ground. Within seconds, you would find yourself pinned against the back of your seat. The forceful sound of the jet engine slicing though the calm air was only interrupted periodically by what felt like my own thundering heartbeat. I remember at the time wondering if this was what flying is supposed to feel like? Like…a carnival ride but bigger and much more fun! And yes, I remember looking observantly at the passengers nearby for that look of confirmation that everything was as it should be. That same look I gave the young man in front of me.
I’m not sure if this was his first flight or not, but that didn’t really matter. We sometimes claim that magic isn’t real, but to imagine this cylinder of metal weighing thousands of pounds somehow touching the top of the sky. Yeah, that’s magic. And, like most magic, for some reason, disappears as we grow older. Not for everyone mind you, but most. I haven’t felt that sensation in a long time, and I hope it isn’t the last. For so much that infuriates me of the flying experience these days, I’ve found that to view it through a kids eyes made a world of difference.
Growing old can be tough, but maybe it doesn’t have to be. I can’t say it will work in the future, but my sincere hope is that I can rekindle my love for flying. Simply put, to make the experience of soaring above the earth, to see the curve of our beautiful planet from above mean something again. To even embrace a sunset from 35,000 feet and not take it for granted. That would be something to enjoy. We all at one point as kids wanted to fly. Wouldn’t you like to again?
“Live within your means, Travel beyond them!”