Monday, March 28, 2016

Flight of My Imagination

Ah, the imagination. It runs wild in relation to flying in an aircraft. One has to contend with thoughts of the "what if" before and during flight. Take for instance my recent flight to Miami. I sat in the waiting area at JFK's terminal 8 waiting to board the plane. The loud speaker announced that the original aircraft would be replaced by another. Immediately, thoughts of what could possibly have happened to cause that switch started to swirl around in my mind. And of course, there I was wondering whether the replacement would be up to the job and that if something went wrong with the original aircraft, what is to say that the same could not occur with its replacement. And then I heard the woman at the boarding gate announcing that the flight was fully booked and that the airline was offering passengers $300 dollars and a trip to a hotel or their home and a flight out the next day if they would give up their seats. And I wondered to myself whether I would regret not giving up my seat and imagined the few passengers who gave up theirs being interviewed and counting themselves lucky for making that decision because you know what "happened" to the flight. Believe me, I imagined the worse. And it didn't help that when I got on the plane the captain explained the reason for the switch - equipment malfunction. And my imagination again got into gear. What if it the equipment malfunctioned in the replacement aircraft?

Then, because I was sitting beside the mid emergency exit, and in keeping with flight protocol, one of the flight attendants asked me and and the other passengers in that area whether we would be willing to assist in case of an emergency. My imagination heard "in case of an emergency," and as you could very well imagine, I went off on my own flight conjuring up what that emergency might be. The one question that kept getting in the way was whether I would even have the time to be of any help in the event of an emergency. And then an interesting thing occurred as the plane taxied to the take-off position. I had been listening to "Carmina Burana." I noticed that the music seemed to match the taxiing pace of the aircraft, and as the aircraft transitioned into its roll the music began to intensify. As the aircraft picked up speed "Carmina" was right there along with. If you can imagine Tom Cruise maneuvering his F-14B with "Highway to the Danger Zone" playing in the background then you could imagine what I was experiencing. I was on a high. The music powered the aircraft and me down the runway. When it lifted off from the ground, straining at its climbed, Carmina's ending provided a fitting denouement. As the aircraft increasingly gained altitude, "Die Walkure, Act III" picked up from where Carmina had left off, fittingly providing the accompaniment as the aircraft soared to freedom. I was all smiles until I looked out the window and wondered whether there was someone down there with that thing that bees and wasps use. My imagination had taken flight again.

[photo art by Ric Couchman]