There are few things that I experience that bring me joy every time.
Taking off in an airplane is one.
Growing up as an airline brat (son of a 30 year veteran of the airline industry, plus a former airman in the US Air Force) means I’ve been experiencing takeoffs since I was 6 mo. old.
Every takeoff is the launching of a new adventure, the start of something exciting. If you’ve ever flown with me, this is the one part of an airplane ride that I am quiet.
I feel the airplane turn onto the runway and stop for flight clearance from Air Traffic Control. It pauses, most of the time, the hesitation before the leap. There are rare times when the pilot already has flight clearance and turns onto the runway and immediately starts the takeoff…that’s the jackpot.
As we roll down the runway, we start slow as the airplane builds speed to create lift. I look out the window to watch the Atlanta airport (usually) roll by. As we build up momentum, the other planes and the runway go by faster and I can hear the jets begin their thrumming through the skin of the plane.
At some point around this time, one of the pilots calls out V1, the speed at which there is no turning back. V1 means they can no longer safely stop the takeoff, they must leave the ground.
I feel the angle of the plane change and I know the front wheel is off the ground. There’s usually a final bump from the runway and then we are airborne. I watch the airport get smaller and I can see the city in the distance.
When I’m leaving someplace, this is the point at which I say goodbye to it. I say a thank you, of sorts for the time I spent there.
When I’m by myself, I’ll often watch out the window until the clouds cover the ground. One time, I watched as we followed I-85 north past Spaghetti Junction. It was a very clear day…
Air travel has always been special for me, no matter how many times I do it. I know different airplane types and configurations, I can remember lots of flights and different carriers.
One of my dreams is to go on a trip in an A380, the relatively new, double decker airplane. There are even A380s with small apartments in them, which cost a fortune. They only go certain places so I’d have to be strategic. I’m sure I will make it one day.
I’m grateful that such a small thing brings me joy.
It’s bound up with other memories: times of family trips and adventures and visits.
It’ll always be a moment of pleasure.
Side note: I will be doing a 5K on one of the Atlanta airport runways. Come join me!