Not a flying kind of guy
Published: Sunday, October 3rd, 2004
Now that the air show has come and gone, I feel I can now admit it. I don’t like flying. It just doesn’t seem natural to me. I mean airplanes are big pieces of metal that are expected to go up into the air. Metal doesn’t stay in the air. Balloons filled with helium stay in the air, balloons filled with hot air stay in the air. On a breezy day, feathers stay in the air, even paper airplanes stay in the air a little while. I will restate my premise. Metal does not stay in the air. My friends try to talk me out of my discomfort with airplanes and their theoretical ability to fly by telling me that I’m not taking the engines or the aerodynamic shape of the wings into consideration. “Yes, I am,” I respond. “They are metal too.” Generally, my friends are not impressed with my logic. They say, “When it is your ‘time’, it is your ‘time’.” I then point out I don’t mind that - it’s when it’s the pilot’s time, and I happen to be sitting in the passenger section that bothers me. I came up with my theory of flight, or possibly lack of flight when I was a young child. After careful observation of birds through my bedroom window (actually, the birds were incidental - I had been watching Rachel, the little red-haired girl next door at the time and some birds got in the way and then Rachel went indoors, so I got to thinking about the birds), I came to the conclusion that I could indeed fly. I felt that if, while holding swim fins securely in my hands, I flapped my arms sufficiently hard, flight would be a probable result. Just to be on the safe side, I also wore a cape. After all, all the superheros in my comic books who could fly had capes, Superman, Supergirl, Hawkman, Dr. Strange (OK, Ok, he more levitated than flew, but it was in the air). So I climbed to the top of our house (I should mention that after a couple of incidents similar to this, my father did not make the ladder quite so accessible), took a running start, flapped aggressively and suddenly, much to my dismay, I found myself firmly ensconced in a ficus bush fifteen feet below where I had been just seconds before. After a couple more attempts (at the enthusiastic urging of my older sister who had never been fond of me, I might add), I realized that heavy things, such things as six year old boys and pieces of metal, do not fly. Light things like sparrows, and pieces of lint can make a semblance of flight. My wife used to claim that my fear of flying was all a pose to avoid visiting her family. “You wouldn’t be so afraid of flying if my brothers lived in Amarillo or Albuquerque instead of Dallas and Jacksonville,” she said. I explained that not being able to fly to see her family during holidays was merely a side benefit of my phobia. I reminded her that one time I did fly to Dallas for one of her family reunions (I swear her family has a reunion every seven hours). It was not a pleasant experience for me, for my wife, for the other passengers nor for the airline. Personally I think that United Airlines is over-reacting when they claim the reason they are going bankrupt is because of that one flight of mine. I couldn’t have driven that many people away. I won’t go into detail but I will say I am very up front about airplanes. I walked into the plane found my seat and at the top of my lungs announced, “I sure hope this plane doesn’t crash..” Most everyone in the plane was quiet. A couple of them nodded, but I did hear one person up near the front say, “Amen to that!” Normally, that wouldn’t bother me, but I noticed it was the pilot who had said it.
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