With the sad news of the deliberate crash of the Germanwings aircraft and the not-so-distant memories concerning the lost Malaysian flight, well, the painfulness of it all made me reflect on the “goodness” associated with aviation — of how much it has remarkably changed the world, or at least the world as I’ve seen it.
My first flight was to Freeport, Bahamas, with one of my best friends, Linda. We were only 19 or so and aviation life then was like the recently demised series “Pan Am.” (Seriously, we wore hats!!) We sat in the plane wide-eyed that day and when the flaps on the wings of the aircraft changed position, she and I looked at each other in complete horror — certain that something awful was about to happen. (Did the plane’s wing just break or what??!!) Lucky for us, a middle-aged man sat in the third aisle seat of our row and I’m sure couldn’t help but notice our reactions. He gently leaned over and said, “Nothing to worry about, ladies. It’s supposed to do that.” I know I breathed a sigh of relief and so did she.
Since that time, I’ve felt a bit like a warrior when it came to flights — I couldn’t wait to get on one. A couple of trips to the Bahamas, Hawaii and Acapulco — and other short trips to Dayton to visit my friend, Linda, after she married. Oh, yeah, and did I mention there was one rock-and-roll landing in San Diego that will always be my most heart-stopping flight story? More recently, there were trips back and forth to the East Coast and my longest flight ever — 8-1/2 hours out of LA — to Papeete, Tahiti, with a short hop to Bora Bora. In looking back, I realized I evolved right alongside of general aviation.
So, now my books are filled with stories that revolve around the subject. My early characters (1950’s — in Esperance, Zurich and Zurich Legacy) flew a Convair 340 and my now-characters (1970’s – Shamar) have added a Boeing 707-320B to the mix. What was a mild interest in aviation suddenly flourished into deep abysses of range, cruising speed, maximum weight at takeoff, runway lengths, humidity factors, wind speeds, approach plates and service ceilings. Not to mention the hours upon hours on the weekends watching endless videos on takeoffs and landings from the cockpits of the 707. It not only quenched my thirst for this aviation knowledge, but I like to think it added credibility to the chapters of my books.
So, while I bow my head and say “God Speed” to those involved in such tragic recent circumstances — I will simultaneously be giving a salute to Scott Kelly and watching him with sheer envy as one of two people that will have the greatest flight ever — for the next year. Safe travels! #YearInSpace