LIOLI 1: Flying

© irene waters 2014

© irene waters 2014

© irene waters 2014

© irene waters 2014

Flying : Like it or Loathe it?

Airplanes became part of my life around three years of age. With arms spread out as wings I would run around the garden playing hocker hen hips. It took my parents a long time to discover that my new game started as a result of my childhood awe of the new Fokker Friendship which had flown in to the airport of the small town in which we lived. My first flight as a child was in that plane and it was a rough flight as we had continual air-pockets bouncing us around. I needed the paper bag for the entire trip.

Flying from then was almost fun. It always meant that we were going on holidays. I’d enjoy looking out the window at the scene below. In those days children and many adults had a guided tour of  the cockpit, visiting the pilot and seeing the vista open out in front without impedance. It was  a white fluffy wonderland.

A sense of anticipation accompanied my first trip to Europe and  made it bearable despite the boredom as I travelled economy in the days before the individual screens. Luckily I like aeroplane food. After that first flight consequent ones were tedious. Thirty hours from departure to destination became increasingly harder to bear.

Then the trip from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. One of the tyres blew out on take off and the pilot decided that a belly landing was the safest way to land. Until we neared LA none of the passengers knew of the problem. On being told there was absolute silence in the cabin. Not a sound was heard. White faces and white knuckles were evident. The hostesses  instructed  us on the position we were to adopt for the landing whilst the pilot flew in never-ending circles using excess fuel. The landing was superbly executed, the fire crews doused the plane with foam and a resounding cheer for the pilot resounded, the first uttering  heard since we became aware of the situation.

Then I flew in a number of small planes, often. These were nerve-wracking to say the least. The eight seater islander was the worst. If you weren’t lucky enough to sit up front with the pilot  you crammed in the back with mainly local, scared passengers and a whole heap of manioc and kava roots. Scared has its own peculiar smell like bad BO with an added edge which combined with the earthy smell of the cargo and aviation fuel odour made the flight memorable but none too enjoyable. On a rainy day it often rained inside the cabin as well as outside, another aspect which decreased my courage.

I, of course, had developed a fear of take-offs and landings and it was much worse in these small planes. In the Islander and the DeHavilland Otter (the other 22 seat plane on the route) every air pocket was felt. One particular day we flew out of Tanna heading to Vila via the island of Erromango. The visibility was non-existent. We flew from Tanna within, it felt, touching distance of the ocean. The island loomed up ahead of us and the pilot had to quickly lift the plane to avoid the trees and mountains. He had three attempts at landing that day before managing a successful  one. The whole time I was saying “don’t do it, just keep going.”

After this time flying on the air buses and the like are pure luxury. I like airline food, I like the individual screens which show the latest films, I loathe the length of flight and the lack of sleep, I dislike takeoff and landings but I love getting to my destination.

© irene waters 2014

Thanks M.R for this new writing prompt. I’m a bit late but finally got there.


About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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10 Responses to LIOLI 1: Flying

  1. M. R. says:

    Marvellous, Irene! – were you brave or were you BRAVE to go on flying in spite of all those … rather awful aspects?! I think you were one or the other, for sure! 😀


  2. fictionfitz says:

    I flew so many miles United knew my name and called me Mr. Ritchie as they ushered me to my first class seat. Today I abhor airplanes.


  3. Sherri says:

    Goodness Irene, I just read this and I would have been absolutely terrified at having to land like this. I’m just the same as you, I hate take-off and landing, in fact I don’t enjoy flying much at all but I do also like the food! I’m so glad you were okay and that you landed safely and may all your landings be safe and trouble-free my friend ❤


    • Thanks Sherri. It was an experience that showed me that petrified is an absolutely true expression for exteme terror. There was not one sound from the moment we were told. It was as though we were all petrified.
      Thanks for your wishes and I wish the same back for you also. Lets have trouble free flying with a nice long walk at the end. Cheers Irene ❤


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