Flying the friendly skies, back in the day

I LOVED flying. I even liked airports, whether the reason was actually going somewhere myself, a trip with a husband, or even just providing transportation for someone else. The atmosphere of the terminal was always exciting, with people walking fast or almost running down the concourse to make a flight. Dragging or pushing carry-on bags and packages, some carrying sleeping children.
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My very first flight was when I was 19 or 20, destination Valdosta, Georgia, to visit a boyfriend stationed there with his Air Force squadron, on active reserve manuevers. The flight only took a couple of hours. I forget what kind of aircraft it was, but my seat mate was a Catholic priest, a fact from which I took great comfort. I was scared silly by the time the plane landed, and very happy to find my fighter-pilot friend waiting at the edge of the tarmac.

Having survived my maiden flight, so to speak, it would be a few years before my next flight…back to the states via a Military Air Transportation Service (MATS) plane. My trip over to Germany two years earlier was SO much fun that I was looking forward to the return voyage across the Atlantic Ocean by ship. It was a converted troop ship, partially transformed into a military version of a luxury liner.

On the nine-day cruise bound for German port of Bremerhaven, from New York, I shared a small cabin with two other army wives and their two-year-olds. The babies were in little steel cribs, and I had one of the top bunks. I spent every possible minute on deck, watching the ocean…except when it was my meal setting. I sat at a big round table with seven other passengers, mostly army officers and wives traveling alone, as I was.

I was keenly disappointed when we flew back to New York on the MATS flight…on the plane, which did not have windows at each row of seats, so my only glimpse of the ocean was through a small window I passed on the way to the lavatory. It was a very uncomfortable flight for me, as I was seven months pregnant.

[Next post will discuss some of the people encountered on airplanes…entitled “Fools in Flight.” The featured characters include ME in the title role once or twice.]

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