When I was four years old my family was crossing the Atlantic on a PanAm 747. Dad brought me up to see the captain (oh how I miss the days when this was still possible) and I got to sit on his lap and "steer" the plane. I remember being absolutely awestruck. The ocean SO far below. The view going on and on forever, coming straight at me. I still love flying, but as much as I love watching the skies from any airplane window, there is something about that front seat.
Fast-forward many years. Ryan and I became pen pals this winter, even though I knew him back in Vermont forever ago when he was a high school kid building an airplane (not the one he has now) in his basement. He became, in part, the inspiration for this blog (see my very first post), and somehow this little seed sprouted in me - I wanted to go on a flying adventure. In a little plane with a front-seat view. So he said, "Come on out!" and, as if handed to me on a plate straight from heaven, the wonderful folks at Southwest Airlines discovered I had enough flights for a free ticket. Off I went to Seattle.
We saw so many beautiful things. We saw miracles: the moonrise over Mt. Rainier at 13,000 feet, clouds over the Olympic Peninsula that looked like tidal waves, rays of light streaming through clouds like ufo beacons. We raced the sunset to land on the beach, we flew a picnic out to friends, we landed in airfields and camped. We walked the railroad tracks straight into Skykomish's centennial parade and wandered into Sekiu's annual halibut fishing derby (the winner was a 73-pounder). We pulled up to Lana's Cafe not in a car (boring!), but in a plane... a beautiful little blue Luscombe Silvaire with yellow wings and a candy cane striped tail.
And somewhere on the way to Willapa, Ryan asked me if I wanted to fly, and so began my first hours of fight training. It never occurred to me that at some point I'd want to learn how to fly. I always thought being a passenger would be enough. But there we were, and all I could think about was my moment in the cockpit of that 747 that started this whole thing (and "West With the Night" by Beryl Markham which kindled the fire).
Sometimes you don't even know something is on your bucket list until it kind of clunks you over the head. How often do we say we'd like to do this or that, we daydream about it, but we come up with all sorts of reasons not to make it happen. Work. Money. Time. Blah blah blah. I've decided I've had enough of that. Life is too short not to do the things you want to do.
(photos of me are by Ryan)
Read my book about it HERE if you'd like to see the whole story.