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I believe I can fly? ... NOT! by Angel Perkins

July 3, 2012

There is a song that claims the above title and when I used to hear it, I would change the station. It wasn’t really that I didn’t like the tune, but the words weren’t as inspiring to me as they were intended to be to the listener.
I’ve always been a firm believer that people weren’t meant to fly. If we had, we would have been born with wings. Since the only human things in history or legend with them were the angels and a couple mythical gods, and if, after many years or doing so, we haven’t yet begun to evolve as a species to even grow one feather, it wasn’t meant to be.
The Wright brothers and their ancient predecessors obsessed with flight were no doubt onto something big. They shared a desire to feel the wind in their hair and to know the freedom of the birds-or maybe they had a death wish.
But is literally risking your life to get somewhere faster worth it? Regardless, I never shared in their insanity for modes of entertainment, sport or travel.
My firm belief is that when traveling, it would only make sense to drive or float because as a human I can project myself forward from land and can swim if need be, but I can’t fly, so being air bound would just be silly, even dangerous. I had to put that understanding to the test recently when flying for my first (and last) time.
Oh, I suppose that if someone said I had to fly in order to protect my family from disease or nuclear holocaust I would, but not for any other reasons I can imagine. My first experience was in a small plane traveling from South Bend to Chicago.
Perhaps it was the fact that the torpedo-shaped flying car sounded like it was equipped with a lawn mower engine. Maybe it was the fact that I was putting my anti-claustrophobia tactics to the test, but more likely it was the painful knowledge that I couldn’t hush my brain, whose voice kept reminding me that if we fell from that height we would not live.
Keep in mind that I am a roller coaster enthusiast that would much rather do hairpin twists, turns and loop-de-loops than choose coasters that simply drop and rise, drop and rise — you know — kind like turbulence. The steep drops not only remove my stomach from its normal resting place but attempts to stuff it into my neck where my straining throat fights to keep it in there, at least until I pass out.
The ride in a giant, metal mosquito didn’t impress me and only fed on my earlier understandings. Both my youngest children and my mother were riding with me and divided by twos like the passengers of Noah, I chose to sit with my daughter, who seemed to share the same anxiety level as I, thinking that in my natural role as nuclear to her, I would calm my own fears by verbally rationalizing them to her while she struggled.
Not so. After the take-off, during which I thought my skin would peel from my face during the rocketing part, she kept me with a perpetual lump in my neck and white knuckles as she reported, “We’re going higher, higher. The buildings look like toys. Oh wow mom. We’re higher, getting higher. The buildings are like little dots, Oh God! We’re in the clouds-above them now! We would never make it if we crashed now!”
She then proceeded to ask if we would be spotting our Creator or his celestial minions while on this trip, to which I answered, “I sure hope not.” I was rejoicing the inventors of Dramamine for keeping their drowsy formula on the market when the captain of the clanking bird (which was rattling so I waited for chunks of it to break off periodically within the view of our tiny window) reported, “Well folks, we’ve achieved optimum height at 10,000 feet.”
At least that’s what I think he said. It sounded a little like he said, “At this height we would never feel the pain of impact as we would all have heart attacks or pass out by the time we hit.” I kept reminding myself that this was a 20-minute flight even though mine, (and my daughter’s apparently — as she kept asking how much longer, how much longer) internal clocks or survival instincts assured us that we were never going to get down...ever.
As we landed, I tried to assist in a “Flintstone stop” (during which one tries to shove their feet through the floor of the vehicle), because the pilot apparently forgot he only had so many feet of runway. All the passengers must have been doing it too because we shot forward to test our lap belts and came to a literal screeching halt.
Luckily the second, two-hour flight wasn’t until three hours later, allowing me time to calm down and eat, add too many additional Dramamine and shop to temporarily forget the risks involved. That one was a larger model of a flying deathtrap which was made easier for me by offering a movie and refreshments.
Nothing like caffeine to calm frazzled nerves. Of course I could have partook in the alcoholic beverages which cost $8 each but I was afraid if I began to feel a dulling of the senses as a result, I would no doubt end up being carried off the airship, after losing my stomach (and lunch) entirely.
That second descent was much less noticeable and the landing far less traumatizing that the first and I was just happy to find myself parked near palm trees rather than having landed in them. I also wondered deeply as to why the practice of clapping after a landing was begun.
Does anyone ever applaud the taxi or bus driver after a safe trip? Do they clap for the Amtrak conductor before they file off the train?
No they don’t, and why not? Because your life isn’t really in that much danger.
I hoped that the trips home (in a little sardine can from Orlando to Cincinnati and a larger one from there to South Bend,) would be less disturbing to me after being provoked by hundreds of brave vacationers and spleen-bending coaster rides. Of course there was turbulence.
“What’s happening?” asked my son. “Why is he doing that?” asked my daughter. “Just to keep the Dramamine people in business,” I thought.
Will my children fly again? I’m not sure, but I assure you I wouldn’t accompany them.
I also won’t be found doing anything else where I’m higher than I can fall from without a strong chance of recovery.

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