Flying

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I only have ten years of overseas travel under my belt, so as an air passenger I’m a mere fledgling. Although a decade is more than enough time to become disillusioned with flying, I remain as excited about taking to the skies as the aforementioned bird, and thought I would dish out some boiled sweets to counter the ear-popping groans you usually hear about taking the plane.

First and foremost, and harking back to my Australia post, the view is never the same. The endless cloud plains are just begging for some exotic and magical creatures to bound across them, their shadows as sharp and distinct as the wings against sunset, and if you’re lucky enough to have the shade up at sundown, you can find yourself staring at a celestial lake of molten sunshine surrounded by riverbanks of beaming cloud.

Above the clouds

And that’s in bad weather; if you can see below you, there’s the dark and glimmering bulge of the sea, capillary rivers or the precisely hemmed greens, yellows and oranges of farmland or reckless scars of desert, with the motherboards of towns and cities in between.

Of course, if it’s a long haul flight, you can’t keep the shade up forever and need other things to occupy your time. Therefore turning this into one of the few occasions when, rather than rushing around, you have absolutely no excuse not to start reading or writing that book, playing that game or watching that film you wanted to see, with no guilty conscience whatsoever. The length of the flight is also a cover for “resorting” to watching children’s films, because there was honestly nothing else to do.

This is in stark contrast to the beginning of your trip when you needed several pairs of arms to organise and pack your belongings.  But this frenzied activity can be cathartic, as it forces you to rationalise and consider which clothes and items you would truly need if forced to abandon everything all at once. For hoarders such as myself it can be a handy way of de-cluttering your home or life, even if you don’t follow through with it afterwards.

Furthermore, people seem to forget that when you strip away the layers of tedium and complaints, this is such an incredible feat of engineering. Strapping feathered wings to our arms didn’t allow humans to fly, but somehow we were able to make a giant metal bird analogy airborne, despite it being many times heavier. If you could somehow bring a medieval peasant into our world, explaining some of our technology would likely terrify or baffle them, but even they would be able to appreciate the majesty and genius of an aeroplane.

I hesitate to trot out the adage about flying being the safest mode of transport, because in the future when there are more flying cars and private planes roving the skies this may no longer be true. However, its safety record is worthy of note, likewise that there’s a lower percentage of boy racers and absent-minded drivers taking to the air in pilot uniform.

Air travel forces you to see incredible views, rationalise your possessions and schedule some time for improving your brain power or feeding your imagination, as well as being safer than crossing the road. These are things many people strive for in life, so why not enjoy this microcosm during your next journey and rise above the agonising checks, waiting times and lack of space. In the end, you’re doing what man has always dreamed of doing.

The airplane

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