Fly Me Away!

I love to fly! 

Last night when I got home from a long day of flying from Dallas with a layover in Denver, sitting at my friend Dave’s kitchen table with nothing but a raging desire to go to sleep, Dave asked me if I really like to fly or if I prefer the convenience of flying over driving.

I do prefer the convenience of flying over driving.  Mostly.  Road tripping can be fun, too.  But if you need to get somewhere quick and easy, and especially if you need to go alone and there aren’t any drivers to trade off, flying is the way to go, if you can.

But the truth is, I love to fly!  Strange as it may sound, flying is often one of the desirable parts of vacation, not just the way to get there.  I love everything about it.  Well, everything except two things.  One, I hate when you pull up to the gate, and it takes forever for the people in front of you to get off the plane.  Secondly, I could live without descending at the end of the flight.  My ears pop and it’s a little uncomfortable.  But the worst is the pressure headache.  For the last 20 minutes of the flight or so, from when you first start descending, I can really feel the altitude changes, in the form of a headache and very uncomfortable sinuses.  It’s the same feeling as when I can tell a thunderstorm is coming.

But I love everything else.  I love takeoff, going faster and faster until suddenly you’re airborne.  I love watching the land below get smaller and smaller as we ascend.  I love watching the landscape change as we cross the country.  I love seeing the rivers, mountains, canyons, etc., from above.  I love flying beside clouds, or above them.  I love (despite the feeling of it) watching the world come into focus again as we descend closer to the destination.  I love the moment of anticipation when the plane is speeding over the runway but not yet touching it. 

It is terrifying and thrilling to think that this tiny contraption flies 30,000 feet above the earth, and falls gracefully out of the sky onto a tiny, specific spot hundreds of miles away.  I love that the attendants always sound pleasant and bored, and the pilot always sounds serious and bored.  Some pilots commentate on the weather and the “lovely day to be flying,” some pilots use a little humor, and I experienced one pilot who pointed out a few landforms that we were seeing.  But they always seem to give the feeling that they do this every day, no big deal, it’s so mundane that they have time to crack jokes and comment on the scenery.  Even in the kind of turbulence that makes people nervous, they just get on the intercom all serious and bored: “Well, folks, we will be experiencing a bit of turbulence for the next half hour or so.  Sorry to delay the beverage service.”  No big deal.  Bored, bored, bored.  Boring turbulence that makes the kids on board squeal like they’re on a roller coaster, which makes everyone around them giggle.  They say that commercial airline pilots have the most boring way to fly, and I appreciate that the boredom translates as safety to the passengers. 

I even love airports.  If you ever want to people-watch, the airport is the place to do it.  Your imagination can run wild.  Those two are going on a honeymoon.  He’s just finished a business trip.  She has three kids and a dog and a husband who think she’s visiting her mother, but she’s running off with that guy to make mad passionate love on a beach in Mexico.  Heehee.  Plus, plenty of room to walk in between flights.  And those fun little moving sidewalk deals.  And the little things that make each airport different.  In Denver this time, I was delivered 35 gates away from where my connection was, which I thought was odd.  And then as I’m walking what seems like a mile and a half to find gate A62 in this giant place, I realize that I will have to go down an escalator.  Down???  Usually down means “go out of the airport and get in a car.”  That’s not what I wanted!  Plus, there was this sign that said “No food, no shops.”  People waiting at a gate and no one trying to sell them anything???  So I went down into the bowels of the airport, and it’s these flights to Aspen, Bozeman, Colorado Springs, smaller destinations.  Which, compared to Denver, so is Omaha.  When they were ready to start boarding, they opened the door and propped it with a thingy.  And you walk outside, in the sunshine, on the pavement, over to your plane.  Or more accurately, your planelet.  And then you go up this carnival-like ramp to board.  The flights to Bozeman and Billings were actually propellor planes, not even the usual jet planes.  It made me feel like I was flying in the olden days.  🙂  I sat next to a very nice (young, attractive, funny, engaging) farmer from a small town in Iowa (who, sadly, did not ask for my number…maybe in the olden days he would have…) who told me that his round-trip flight from Omaha to Denver and back was $68.  For $68, you can barely drive there!

I’ve also discovered that when I fly alone, I talk.  🙂  I brought things to read and do and listen to, but I’d much rather talk to strangers.  I was talking to one lady, and she was quite talkative as well, and her husband was like, “This young lady is going to regret saying hello to you.”  I wanted to tell him that this young lady is just another pea in the pod!  Maybe that’s my small-town genes, but I’d rather chat away than sit in silence and continue to be strangers.  The small-town-upbringing theory was supported by the farmer, because he was the one who got that conversation going and kept it going the entire flight.  It wasn’t me, that time.  🙂

So I experienced two takeoffs, two landings, two complimentary beverages, a couple good hours of people-watching, interesting conversations with plenty of nice people, and about 40 minutes of “descent headache.”  Not bad for a Sunday.  🙂

(Photo is somewhere between Des Moines and Las Vegas in the summer of 2007.)

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Becky
    May 18, 2010 @ 22:04:46

    I was going to tell you I recognized that cloud before I read your comment at the end! 🙂

    Reply

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