It's on again and off again... my love-hate relationship with flying. While I am intrigued with the concept of flight, it is commercial air travel that has my stomach in knots.
I come from a family that loves the air. My mother dreamed of being a woman pilot. But since it was not yet time for most women to fly, she ended up working for the Army Air Corps as a civilian personnel specialist. But her dreams were filled with flying.
My son had always been intrigued with flying. I signed him up for Aerospace Explorers at age 14. We went to air shows, to aerospace facilities and he got his first taste of flying. I have to admit I was as thrilled as he was to see aircraft and spacecraft. He now has his own plane and flies for recreation and for charity work in the Bahamas.
But I am not flying.
Why? Well, let me count the ways...
1. Thieves: Did you hear about the group of airport staff who were recently arrested for pilfering the suitcases of travelers?
2. Getting Undressed: Did you ever feel like you were disrobing in front of strangers at the airport? I don't like getting dressed before traveling in a nice outfit and then having to undress (shoes, jacket, belt) to go through security.
3. Early Arrivals: There are not many who relish getting to the airport 1-2 hours in advance of a domestic flight.
4. Hurry up and Wait: How many really like waiting in security lines and then having to move it, move it, move it.. Removing your computer from its case, take out any liquids and stuffing your jacket, purse and more into dirty bins to go through the X-ray machines.
5. Lining Up: Enjoy standing in line to board the plane?
6. Bin Hogs: I don't like waiting for the glutton to stuff two huge carry-ons into the overhead bin.
7. Cell Phone Convos: I cringe as I am forced to listen to the most intimate details of a person's life while seated next to them or waiting in line. And now it's being discussed that passengers can talk on the cells in flight? Noooo!
8. Health Concerns: Care about your health? I don't like having to seat myself with strangers, some of whom may be coughing and sneezing. Even if your seat-mate doesn't give you something, the airplane air is drying and makes it much easier to catch something in that crowded airport.
9. Terror in the Skies: Of course we've been watching the news and reflecting on the loss of a huge commercial jet over the Indian Ocean. I don't like to think that we might be in danger of hijacking or pilot diversion.
10. Stormy Weather: Oh yes, and there is the weather. I haven't forgotten turbulence and having to be re-routed because of a dust storm on the ground as we were landing. I haven't forgotten watching the cowlings on the engines ice as we climbed through ice pellets. Yikes!
It is hard being a travel writer who really doesn't want to fly. But being grounded has given me more time to explore the West in detail. Driving back roads, hiking and walking have given me opportunities so see history, culture and natural beauty not otherwise experienced. And I meet wonderful people on my travels instead of stressed out people crowded into an airplane.
There is something freeing about looking up into the sky during a storm and enjoying the clouds, the wind and the rain. With my feet securely on the ground, the weather has become a thing of beauty rather than something to be avoided or feared.
I don't know when or where I will fly commercially again, but, believe me, it is on the bottom of my travel bucket list!