Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Random memories about flying commercial when I was young and small. When I was young and small I traveled a lot with my parents and some of my earliest memories are aviation-related.

The sound of a pop can opening does it for me. I guess the first times I heard it must have been on board an airliner, because it always makes me think of a flight attendant opening a can of Coke for a passenger. The passenger is reading a magazine on a long-haul flight to Europe, the cabin is dimmed and "Heaven Can Wait" is playing on the in-flight movie. The Coke has been poured into a small plastic cup, and there is a maraschino cherry impaled on a little plastic sword also sitting in the cup. A couple of airplane ice cubes and a napkin, maybe a couple of shortbread cookies completes the scene.

The smell of lit jet fuel has also seeped into my brain - it brings back the memory of flying to Dublin on a Wardair 747, listening to David Bowie's "Let's Dance" on my Sony Walkman tape player and reading comic books for 6 hours straight. Those were good times - I was just entering my teens, discovering girls, dyeing my hair blue and wearing combat boots, and my trips with my parents were among the occasions we could relax and enjoy each other's company.

I remember talking to a flight attendant and asking him if he liked airplane food. "I'm sick and tired of it, Sir" was his reply. I remember thinking it was a very curious response, as flying in an airplane was an exceptionally glamorous way to make a living.

Once when I was around 8 or 10, I was flying transcontinental with my dad and when I had to go pee, I forgot to latch the little lock in the airplane's washroom. A fellow passenger opened the door soon afterwards and I nearly peed on his shoes when I spun around. I triple-check the lock on the bathroom door now.

I remember visiting my relatives in British Columbia for a week each Summer and travelling as an unaccompanied minor and having to wear a nametag around my neck. I loved it though - I felt very grown-up and important because I had a customer service rep sitting with me the entire time I waited to make a connection at Vancouver International airport. Even first-class passengers didn't get their own customer service reps, so clearly it meant I was royalty.

And last but not least, the lemony-detergent smell of moist towelettes is the smell of doing 10 miles a minute over the surface of the planet, just finishing our first in-flight meal, chatting amongst ourselves, excited about what we'd do and see when we landed.


amulbunny said...

I remember my first trip to Paris in 1971 on a 707 flying in first class and thinking how lucky I was to be doing this. Airline meals and free drinks, with parental permission, the upstairs lounge in the 747s and enjoying the heck out of every minute off the ground. The smell of diesel and JP4 bring such memories. Enjoy them.

Soaring Student said...

The first flight I ever took was in May 1961, on some sort of a four-engine propeller aircraft, from Montreal to somewhere in England (London). The a/c had a main cabin door with a self-folding staircase. I was 7 at the time. I recalling lying down on the floor in some blankets to have a sleep (I still cannot sleep while sitting up), and wondering why there was no hump on the floor (I guess I slept on the back seat floor during long car trips, which means my two sisters got to lay down on the back seat).

And I got to visit the flight deck. There was certainly three crew on the flight deck, and I'm wondering if there was a fourth (a navigator).

Anonymous said...

Sulako I wonder if you have an affinity for hammocks since you were once sung into an overhead baby sling attached to the bulkhead on a DC9 while you winged your sleepy way to London from Ndola, Zambia. And another time you walked all the way to Berlin from Cairo as you explored the aisle of a VC 10