The water of Flushing Bay turned to a blur. My face was pressed to the window, with the roar of the jet engines concealing my giddy laughter. At five years old, I took my first plane flight and got hooked on aviation. Thundering off the runway at LaGuardia and into the sky toward Chicago, this was the start of my time in the sky.
Admittedly, somewhere between 1990 and 1997, I developed a small fear of flying. It wasn't enough to keep me from flying, but lack of understanding about how and why air travel worked scared me a bit. Whatever fear existed was systematically crushed by weekend flights in and out of Miami to compete in races with my college rowing team. A particularly nasty thunderstorm over Tennessee convinced me if a plane can fly through that, it can fly through anything. Plus, my brother was involved in an air "emergency" somewhere in the Himalayas, which convinced me that fate would strike the same family twice. Now, I can't recall how many flights I've been on this past year, yet alone in my lifetime.
If everything goes according to plan, that number will increase dramatically. Tomorrow, I'm taking an "introductory flight lesson" and hope I enjoy it enough (and can find the cash to take more lessons), that it becomes not just a hobby, but a means of convenient and exciting travel for me. Given as a birthday present from my wife, this was either her way of giving me a chance to try something new, or a great way for her to get some cash from my life insurance.
In preparation, I've watched tons of videos online, read several books, bought aviation magazines, and even flown a few flight simulators. None of these, I'm sure, capture what it feels like to actually guide a vehicle through the wind. But I do expect to have that same unforced giddy laughter that I felt all those years ago when I take to the skies tomorrow.
If you're in the New York Metropolitan area tomorrow, I suggest keeping a constant look out on the skies, and for good measure taping a pillow to your head, there may be giant pieces of metal hurling toward the ground.