We were flying from here to visit relatives in Florida for our vacation this summer. Bill was nervous, and I was confident, until the second leg of our trip from Atlanta to Orlando.
Our one-hour layover in Atlanta was extended, and the plane had more than 200 passengers when we finally boarded.
I was worried as I fastened my seat belt, although I couldn’t believe we could ever fall out of the plane because we were really tightly packed in.
The pilot’s confident voice came over the speaker, “Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Sorry for the little delay. We had a slight mechanical problem, but everything is okay now. We should be departing shortly…What? It what? Get someone out here NOW!”
As the confidence oozed out of his voice, panic set into my mind. Fortunately the panic paralyzed me so I didn’t jump up and run screaming for the door.
I just sat there like a rock as my fingers dug new furrows in the arm rest.
The pilot’s voice came on the speaker again, his confidence restored. “Sorry ladies and gentlemen, there will be a very brief delay. A technician is on the way now to close this door, and we’ll be on our way to Orlando.
“We could get off right here before they start, rent a car, and drive the rest of the way,” I began.
My spouse, the guy I had been babying for two days in preparation for this flight, suddenly became the old, experienced, frequent flyer.
“Hey, nothing to worry about. They have everything under control. They’re closing the door now.’
As my fingers dug deeper into the arm rest, his fingers relaxed, and so did he. I finished the flight stiff with tension while he relaxed and actually enjoyed the rest of the flight.
I kept my seatbelt fastened and was aware of every noise. We sat over the wing, and for the first time I noticed how that wing bounced. I could have sworn some of the bolts were loose. They looked wobbly to me.
We arrived safely and our ride to Orlando was waiting for us.
After two short weeks it was time to board the plane again. There was a real role reversal. Bill was confident and I was hesitant.
During our three-hour layover in Atlanta, we explored the airport. Well, actually we just explored the “small” area we were in which was probably as large as the Dayton airport.
We watched as they loaded luggage onto a huge two-story plane that was bound for Korea. I remembered that before this trip I had thought it would be really great to go over the ocean in a jet plane someday. I’d changed my mind. The ocean is awfully wide and terribly deep.
Finally we boarded the plane for home. The pilot stood in the doorway confidently greeting each passenger, “How are you today?”
He’ll never know why I responded, “Never mind how I am. How is this plane?”
That was months ago, and I’ve recovered my old confidence. I think I could handle an overseas flight now—as long as there are no delays for slight mechanical problems.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on Sept. 18, 1997.