…the pilot loosens his tie, removes his jacket, and places it in the same space as the passengers’ possessions.
It is flying, of course, but not in a Boeing 747 jumbo jet or a wide body L1011. It is personal: the cabin is pressurized but just barely, so you swallow spit or chew gum to keep your ears unblocked. Methane vapors pour from buzzing engines and seep into a not-so-airtight cabin of ten seats that huddle along each side of the plane as if seeking their own warmth; in doing so, they create the aisle down which passengers walk, the people seeming to glide smoother than the craft itself.
Upon takeoff and landing, the propeller-driven plane vibrates and shakes in a manner not unlike driving in an old VW bug, yet the flight itself is comfortable, soothing some into naps reminiscent of curling up in the back seat of the family station wagon as a child while traveling over the roads on a return trip home after a busy weekend, vacation, or visit to relatives. It is so comfortable that the pilot loosens his tie, removes his jacket, and places it in the same space as the passengers’ possessions before sitting in a cockpit that remains open for a “view of the road” during the flight.
Now the cities, towns, villages, and the roadways connecting them take on the appearance of a phosphorescent ganglia. The view is different from the Christmas tree effect that most flights present–with that appearance of cities, towns, and farms as nothing more than strings of lights.
You feel inordinately safe making this voyage—a shuttle trip really—in a plane that skims earth’s surface rather than flying over it, bringing you closer to the buildings and the land and water separating them. This is up-close, intimate, human.
This is not the only way to fly—just one of the best.
Photo header by Daniel Betts