My father is a pilot. He flew helicopters for the Army for 25 years and when I was really young he had a private pilot’s license for flying planes. I barely remember it, but when I was three years old, I rode in a little prop plane that my daddy flew. Flying is something he loves, and I could not be prouder to be the daughter of a pilot.
When I was a kid taking one of my first commercial flights, I was a little nervous because my dad wasn’t the one flying the plane, and I thought that was a bad idea. My dad was, however, sitting next to me and noticed my nerves. Instead of telling me that technology keeps us safe and we’re masters of the air or whatever, he explained lift to me. I don’t really understand it from a scientific perspective, but the basic concept of what he said has always stuck with me: We don’t fly because we’re so technologically savvy we can break gravity. We fly because the air wants us to.
See, according to my father, flying is completely natural. When we get in a plane, we don’t impose ourselves on nature or break any natural laws. The sky was created in such a way that objects are supposed to fly. We build the right shape and the sky will pick us up, and with a few gentle changes to the wings, the sky will carry us where we want to go. Just like if we build the right shape and slide it out onto the ocean (or lake or river) the water will buoy us up, and with a few gentle changes to the rudder or oars the water will carry us where we want to go. The Earth is constantly in motion, designed for motion, and She is happy to work with us when we want to move with Her. Happy to take us to new destinations, and accommodate the way we want to get there, be it land, sea or sky.
Even though I don’t fear flight – I love watching the ground shrink and the clouds tunnel around us – I do still get a little nervous knot in my stomach each time that engine starts and part of my brain imagines it’s some impossible feat we’re about to accomplish, protected from the elements by a thin wrap of metal. But then I remind myself what my dad said (and still says), about how welcoming the sky is, how it is her choice to lift us up. And as the plane picks up speed heading for that glorious climb, I say my thanks (usually with some silly rhyme I make up on the spot, a sincere if somewhat ridiculous thank you) and feel at peace traveling through a realm that, while not my own, welcomes us.
Got any vacation plans? Safe travels to everyone during this season of traveling, no matter how you get there.
+ Featured image: Cetonia Aurata Take Off by Wilder Kaiser