Surviving this airplane trip provides a lift

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm not the best flier. At least I wasn't two weeks ago.

I have several friends who love to fly. In fact, a couple of my pals are pilots. So I've heard all the rhetoric about their soaring sense of freedom, the magnificent sights to be seen. Blah, blah, blah.

In my world, flying has been a necessary evil — a way to get from Point A to Point B without spending my entire vacation in a car. So there I was, squeezed into a window seat next to a fidgety, cranky stranger, nervous about what I'd find at my destination. Or whether I'd even make it.

One plane change and a few hours later, air rushed from my lungs in an exhalation of gratitude as the pilot announced we were about to begin our descent. Yes! Breathe, Girl. Slow and easy. You got this.

Truth be told, I'm not the worst flier. Oddly, I actually enjoy the rush of taking off and landing. But I'm more than a titch claustrophobic, and I also suffer from vertigo. So hanging about in the sky, in a little winged silver tube, gets to me. There's too much time to think, and no safe place to put my eyes without getting what I delicately refer to as the "ass-over-tea-kettle tumbles."

The pilot and the plane were still droning on. So I hesitantly lifted the plastic shade on the window, hoping to get a bearing on our current elevation.

I told myself to look out toward a horizon. Not to look directly down. And to keep breathing. For I am learning that a steady supply of oxygen helps in just about every circumstance.

Except in this instance, when the air was suddenly sucked out of my lungs.

As far as my big browns could see, a beautiful cerulean blue sky shimmered above a sprawling quilt of tufted white clouds. Gold and pink highlights glinted atop the convex surfaces of this amazing cumulus formation. Shades of lilac and silver caressed its many crevasses. A smile instantly split my lips. I swear I could almost hear angels singing.

"Oh, this is what they've been talking about," I gasped. Out loud. And then it got better.

The little bombardier passed over an oval opening in the chromatic comforter. An emerald forest emerged. Trees surrounded two small alpine lakes. The morning breeze sent ripples scudding across the surfaces. Sunlight sparkled on a kaleidoscopic display of teal, azure and lapis.

I'd spent many a lazy summer's day boating on these twin lakes. They'd always seem so big under sail. But they looked so small that Saturday morning.

They are perfect from either perspective, I decided. Ridiculously perfect. I wondered if it was possible to get a visual high. My cheeks hurt from non-stop grinning.

Still feeling the effects of the bedazzling post landing, I tried explaining it all to The Professor. Words failed. But kisses ensued. A different kind of flying. That works, too.

The flight home tested my nerves. Mechanical issues forced our plane to fly at low altitudes, until we could board another — and head into a storm.

"I don't want to do this!" I texted The Professor. "Breathe," replied the fellow safely on terra firma.

That I actually boarded an aircraft after hearing the words "mechanical issues" and "storm" still boggles my tiny little mind. But I ended up hopping on and off three more prop planes in order to make it home.

During the early morning descent into Medford, Alaska Flight No. 2483G soared amid a flock of drifting white clouds. Crossing over Rogue River's serpentine, our wingtips leveled with Table Rock — and the face-splitting grin returned.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email sspecht@mailtribune.com.


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