Rite of Passage Twelve –Flying Solo–
1958 -I am now twenty-four years old
Q: Travel: In a world filled with huge cultural differences it’s possible to make some fairly serious mistakes. Did you run a special risk in your past travels?
This is going to sound very old fashioned but lets get it out of the way, quickly!
The very first experience I had in an aircraft was with a crazy Australian who loved flying a very small Tiger Moth training bi-plane and doing stunts. He invited me to join him.
I did just that one flight when I was sixteen. My mother decided wisely that her son didn’t need to fly upside down (remember; he was from ‘down under’) and suggested we play golf instead.
So…for another first, I stepped onto a golf course where my new friend let go of a number 2-iron -which wound up in my face. Thirty-six stitches later I made it back home with a substantial fat lip and one less front tooth!
My next flight was to be a marathon. At 25 years of age I boarded an air force ‘relic’ -a four-engine gas prop Hastings and set out for New Zealand, a trip that would take ten days at no higher than 12,000 feet.
There now –I told you that I began my new life in the air with two extraordinary ‘firsts’!
I really do want to encourage you to find Flash of Silver, perhaps in a library, and read Rite of Passage (chapter) Twelve. It’s really quite a hoot what happened when we had a layover in San Francisco!
You may recall that the air force had decided that I needed to go ahead of Treena and Tessa in order that I could become ‘acclimated to the culture’ more than the climate.
We were not a bit happy about the idea but the opportunity to make one HUGE leap away from our sad past –was it worth it?
So…what about now?
I’m writing this blog at the Atlanta airport gate number 23 (for the second time today!) I flew in from Seattle on a 4 hour 20 minute flight that arrived early enough to have to wait 20 minutes…for a parking spot!
This allowed me a fine brisk walk from T concourse to B concourse with a brief high-speed train as a link.
I arrived just in time to grab my seat on a 50-minute (105 mile) flight to Chattanooga Tennessee (yes, the choo choo one!)
At takeoff we were told that a small switch had failed and a brief wait would fix it.
That took just on 45 minutes…to no avail. We quit the unhappy plane and moved to the end of B concourse to await a replacement. Then…Ho Ho! they decide to do a hotbed change with an incoming and so back we go to our original gate and…wait. Allowing me time to buy water “Keep hydrated”, says daughter Tessa on the phone from Seattle.
At 12:45am we re-board and poof! in a magical moment my prized Patagonia (natural down filled) electric blue comfort coat –disappears –swallowed up and nowhere to be found –GONE!
I take a “just in case” single Advil and sit there remembering my early flying days –really, not so much has changed!
A PLEASANT POSTSCRIPT (P.P.S)
I wanted to leave the HAPPY ENDING until now–for its possible effect?!
Last week I wrote about B.I.S.I –going “Beyond Immediate Self Interest”.
What happened as I left that very late aircraft in Chattanooga was that I saw a female ground crew member standing alongside our exit on the tarmac with my bright blue jacket over her arm. A fellow (B.I.S.I) passenger had found it and handed it over to be seen by its owner.
It would have been so easy for her to fold it into its tiny ball and leave the plane…only to find later, in the pocket, an envelope with Treena’s ashes inside!
So “thank you, B.I.S.I”–you are a great example to our nation at this time and I’m so grateful.
P.S This week I read Treena’s poem How Long