LESLIE CRISS: Positive experience wished for first-time flier

“You haven’t seen a tree until you’ve seen its shadow from the sky.”
– Amelia Earhart

“There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror.”
– Orson Welles

I love airplanes. And I love to fly. I flew for the first time when I was about 7. My mother boarded a jet headed west to her home state of Arizona for a visit with my grandparents with my younger sister and me.
Since Beth was the baby, she got to sit in the seat beside our mama. I was across the aisle from them, seated next to a man carrying a gun in a shoulder holster.
I know this because in the middle of our flight, I got cold and he took off his suit coat and put it over me.
Maybe he was a sky marshal, maybe a criminal. Either way, he was kind to this kid.
My first newspaper job gifted me with opportunities to meet amazing folks and talk about their lives.
One of these folks was a young man named John Gross. He did not yet possess a license to drive a car, but he had his pilot’s license and his own plane.
The day I interviewed him for a feature story, he took me up into the friendly skies over Leake County in his two-seater.
It was a gorgeous, clear Mississippi day and that flight remains one of my favorite memories.
I flew with three friends in a four-seat plane from Gulfport to Jackson one afternoon – and back that evening. I sat in the back, just behind where a co-pilot would have sat.
The roundtrip flight was fine until I noticed Pat, our pilot, grab a book and flipped to a page titled “How to Land the Plane.” I was terrified until he assured me every pilot has a checklist that must be observed when flying.
Good to know.
My friend Lena and I flew all night from New York to London on our way to Spain, just weeks after 9/11. Lena napped often on the overnight flight.
I never once closed my eyes. I didn’t want to miss anything – from the brogue of the British flight attendants to the clouds outside my window to the in-flight Helen Mirren film.
We’ve been excited the past week or so as our friend and co-worker Judy Putt has prepared to fly for the first time in her life. I told her how much I love flying, especially taking off and landing.
She promised to text when she’d safely reached her destination.
Mid-morning last Thursday, a text arrived: “N the air cried like a baby during takeoff but fine now will be landing n forty minutes.”
I’d like to believe she cried like a baby because she was overwhelmed by the sheer wonder of flight. We’ll see when she returns.
She arrived safely and texted the landing was “very smooth.”
Here’s hoping it will be the beginning of a long love affair with flying for this first timer.
“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
– Leonardo Da Vinci

Contact Leslie Criss at leslie.criss@djournal.com or (662) 678-1584.

Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal