The first time I ever flew in an airplane was many years ago. I loved it! I would gladly have flown anywhere.
My husband, Bill, was not as fond of flying as I was, but he agreed to fly to visit his sister in Florida for vacation a few times.
Then I started teaching U.S. Geography and decided it would be wise to drive through the states I was teaching about. That was great too. I learned a lot about the states on those trips. Bill was happy not to fly. He never really enjoyed it.
This summer when we talked about visiting his sister and my brother in Florida, I suggested we should travel by plane.
Since I no longer teach geography I could skip the states between here and Florida, and the trip would involve a lot less travel time.
He immediately reminded me of all the plane crashes. I remembered flying above the clouds and over the toy towns below. He reminded me of all the crashes again. I remembered soaring aloft for two hours instead of riding through traffic for two days.
Finally I suggested it would be better to be a bundle of nerves for one day in anticipation of going and two hours of actually going than being a nervous wreck for a week before going plus two days of travel time. That plus the fact that air fares took a sudden drop in prices convinced him we should fly.
We were told to be at the airport at least an hour before take-off. We were there, but since our flight departed at 6 a.m., the airline employees were not there. We finally boarded and the flight was glorious.
Some things have changed since our last flight several years ago. No breakfast was served. Instead we were offered individually wrapped cookies and our choice of beverages. Since I never was convinced passengers were likely to starve to death on a one-hour flight, I didn’t mind, as long as the price was right.
We arrived in Atlanta on schedule and found the gate for our departure to Orlando. We had less than an hour lay-over on the way down, but three hours coming back, so we decided to explore the airport on the return trip.
I read my book until our waiting area began to get crowded. Then I did some people watching. That was interesting
Then it occurred to me there were an awful lot of people to watch for one plane, and it was past the time for take-off. Time to investigate.
The gate attendant assured me there was just a slight delay and we would be loading soon. Forty-five minutes later all of those people began to board the plane.
I, the one with great confidence in flying began to wonder how they would get that plane with all those people off the ground.
Bill, the formerly nervous one, patted my hand and assured me that everything would be fine.
As we boarded, the pilot greeted each passenger with a friendly comment. He looked at me and said, “How are you today?”
I looked him in the eye and answered, “Never mind me, how’s the plane?”
He looked startled, then laughed and said, “I don’t know. I haven’t flown it yet.”
Bill herded me quickly down the aisle as I asked him how long it would take to walk from Atlanta to Dayton,
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on Sept. 3, 1997.