The First Time


Tess Howard

Getting into the small Cessna 150 was not a difficult decision, as long as it never left the ground. All of my flight experience as a passenger had been on commercial airliners. When I was invited to accompany a newly licensed pilot as a passenger the thought turned my blood cold, my life passed before my eyes, I just couldn't do it.

I observed my friend, time after time, bounce back in after every flight, a look of pure joy displayed on his face. "Better than being in love" he would say, "It was beautiful up there today." No matter what he said, I would just smile and say "I'll do it some day, I really will". Both of us knowing I probably never would. But he kept asking. I kept skirting around, too busy, too tired, not ready.

One day, I was feeling quite overwhelmed with life in general, and he asked me again. "Sure " I said, smiling sweetly "let's go."

He did a double take, and asked me to step on the dreaded scale if I was serious. The scale, my weight, my business, my life. Although bothered that he asked me, size six, to step on the scale, I did it knowing that he was making sure his flight plan was done exactly as it should to ensure the safety of the flight.

I sat at my desk and wrote a short, handwritten note to my family. I let them know I had done it, gone up in the plane. If anything should happen, I had plenty of life insurance. The fish needed to be fed. I loved them.

I was very quiet on the ride to the airport. My friend kept asking me if I was sure I was ready to do this.

All I could do was nod. I was trying to block out of my mind the size of that little tiny plane, but it kept shrinking in size every time I thought about it. I was doubting that we both could fit inside.

I was scared but I wanted to experience what all the hoopla was about. It was my turn. I am not a dare-devil, I won't even ride a roller-coaster. Funny, but the plane seemed safer, even though now it had shrunk to the size of a washing machine.

We arrived at the airport, a short drive away, in what seemed like hours. Everything seemed to move in slow motion. I watched my friend closely as he checked out the little bitty plane, (now the size of a toaster) before take-off. He was very thorough. I was reassured with every item he checked off his list, explaining as he went along. I kept asking myself "How were we ever going to fit inside?"

It was time to get into the plane. Talk about walking slowly! By this time my heart was in my stomach, my brain had turned to jelly. Why else would I be getting in this little tiny plane with a newly licensed pilot? Temporary insanity was the only answer.

He was checking everything! And checking it again! And again! It was now or never, let's go already! I was once again impressed with the pre-flight checks. I would have backed out for sure if I he had not been so thorough.

It was time. I was ready (ha! ha!). The plane was ready. The pilot was ready. I wanted to close my eyes, but couldn't. Much like when blood is being drawn from my arm, if I watch, it's easier. I climbed in, I fit, so did the pilot. Miracle.

Take-off was very smooth, we were up. The small plane swiftly climbed and soon we were looking over Orange County. I was, for the lack of a better term, awe struck. I sat still, very , quiet and completely taken in by the beauty around me.

The plane was quiet, if there was noise, I did not hear it. The ride was smooth, if it was bumpy, I did not feel it. The pilot was in control, I had expected nothing less.

The thrill and the beauty of it all overwhelmed me. Not a real quiet person by nature, I was speechless.

I loved it. I was hooked. Having moved up to Orange County from San Diego County, I was not very impressed with the view from ground level. But up in the air, what a beautiful place! The beach without sand, the freeway without traffic - wow!

It was a wonderful flight. I'll do it again and again. I want to fly. For now I'll fly with my friend.

I'll never look at the sky the same way again and I can't wait for the next time I can spend some time with that little plane. Better than being in love? Sounds awfully close.