Not 5 minutes from where I live is one of my favorite coffee shops. It’s a small and cozy place that sits in a commercial plaza filled with other food or drink business of one type or another. The entire plaza here is surrounded by trees, mostly palm trees, as that is the official adopted tree of the Rio Grande Valley. It’s hard to find a city block around here that is not guarded by palm trees, if you can really call them trees, they’ve always seemed more like props in a play to me. Anyway.
One of my favorite things about this particular shop is that it sits just under one of the flight paths that planes take to get to the local airport that is just over one mile away. At that distance you can guess that those big metal birds are on the verge of landing and are very close to the ground when they go over your head as you sip your coffee. You can’t see or hear them that much in the shop, but the shop has some outside seating and if you happen to be out there you will see a few planes up close during the day. That always freaks me out.
For the life of me when I see a plane like that up close I always wonder why the hell it isn’t just falling out of the sky. Every single time I think this. Tons of metal should not be able to glide through the air like that. But it does.
Before you say anything, I do know a little bit about how planes work. I get the science (I watch Bill Nye the Science Guy) of it. Still, it doesn’t diminish my amazement every single time I see a plane that close. It’s crazy. I almost expect it to fall out of the sky at that very moment and am literally surprised sometimes that it didn’t no matter how may times I see them fly by up close.
I suppose that for all practical purposes every plane landing is just a controlled fall out of the sky.
Wow. I just scared myself into never flying again.
Seriously though, the plane is literally fighting gravity every moment it is up in the air. And that fight is not a natural (biological one) like birds do every day. It’s a mechanical one. And I know that the moment the machine breaks down and that fight stops nothing is going to stop that plane from crashing to the ground in a spectacular fireball.
That always occurs to me when I see the plane overhead. I don’t know how people don’t think about that every time they see one. It’s not normal no matter how normal people want it to be. So when I see it I don’t pretend it is normal. I react accordingly.
Which is really an improvement for me, really. I used to wait for the fall. I’d see a plane up close and I’d look around and quickly do death toll projections in my head. I don’t do that anymore. It was 138 (+ or – 5) yesterday, not including the people on the plane. (I meant I won’t do it anymore after that one).
I haven’t really flown much. At least not enough to ever get used to it like I know some people are. When I did fly it was for work. Going here or there to investigate a case or pick up a suspect. I never liked it. Especially those small planes that get thrown around in the sky by the slightest gust of wind. It’s crazy to get into those. But I know people who do it every day.
If I’m lucky I’ll never have to get on a plane again. I don’t mind long car rides. I love stopping at every convenient store and checking out what kind of burritos or beef jerky they have. It takes the average person 3 hours and 40 minutes to drive from where I am sitting right now to San Antonio, Texas. I can make it in an even six hours if don’t dilly- dally around and also check out the every historical marker from here to there. There are over 16,000 historical markers here in Texas. There were apparently a lot of interesting things happening here back in the day.
Don’t get me wrong about the planes. I am not scared of planes. I like planes. I can sit in one on the runway all day long. It’s just when they get in the air that I start to have mixed feelings about them. I wonder if their heart is in it. I wonder if they gave all they’ve got on the last trip and have no more left for this one and have not bothered to tell anyone. That is all. I don’t trust their judgment.
I guess that is why when I see one up close from the coffee shop I wonder how (or even why) the damn thing is still in the air like that. Why isn’t it falling straight down? It really looks like it should. It really does.
But I hope that is not always the case. I hope one day I am like the rest of you and simply look up at an airplane and wonder where it’s going. Wonder what adventures lie ahead for all those passengers (statistics?) safely tucked away into their seats as tons of creaking metal tries to make its way to ground without killing every single living thing on board. Yeah, I want to be normal. Someday I will be. Someday it will be just a mild shock to see a plane in the air instead of the wow moment it always is for me now.
But as I write this I can hear a plane overhead. I can tell it’s a big one too. I’m sure it’ll be fine. Yep, sure if it. I am not going to even think about it.
174 (+ or – 7).