On a flight the other day, a super tall guy was jammed into the middle seat next to my window assignment. I was surly, as would be expected of one whose limited space is encroached by a hulking intruder. As if his size wasn’t offensive enough, he was a chatty talker too. For shame. He’d been at a conference, he couldn’t wait to get home to his daughter’s soccer game, he was optimistic about the weather and coming spring. He had especially Sunny Regards which began to thaw my over-traveled, icy disposition.
Big-nice-guy, or, BNG as I’ll refer to him, asked me if I was nervous about takeoff. “No”, I laughed it off, “it is no big deal to me anymore”. What I left out is that I’ve been traveling nearly non-stop for the last 9-weeks, and each takeoff gets me closer to home which is the only part I am thinking about.
BNG on the other hand was sincerely and infectiously excited. He went on and on about how even after years of flying he is still amazed at the mechanics of flight and how he gets giddy at takeoff and landing (which proved true). I think he held his breath as we raced down the runway, and his eyes smiled as big as his grin. I found myself surprised by, and caught-up in his happiness; I was excited too.
It really is amazing that an awkward lumbering metal thing can hurl down a runway and liftoff. It’s hard to believe I’ve never really been curious about how it works. Like any educated person of my age, I have read about the Wright brothers and Amelia Earhart. I was entertained by the dog-fighting drills in Top Gun and I have given passing thought to Snakes on a Plane. But, despite hundreds, if not thousands of flights in my career, I’ve never paid much attention to the engineering of flight.
BNG practically squealed “Weeeeeeee” as we landed. Okay, maybe I made that up, but it is almost true. In every way, he gave the impression of an accomplished professional, an involved dad and husband, and a local sports fan. And amidst that, he was joyful about flying. I am inspired to be more aware of the special moments in life like a liftoff. Perhaps even someone on a business-travel-bender like me can see her spirits soar, if momentarily by noticing the specialness of flight.