Fly Rhymes With Die

My dad is a pilot. He flew for the Marines. He flew for two airlines. He flew for humanitarian aid and for Jesus. He’s not kidding around, y’all. My dad FLIES.

My mom, in what can best be described as a fit of youthful exuberance and a desire for marital bliss and, you know, to have something in common with him (which is exactly why I’ve learned to use math analogies when communicating with my husband), acquired her private pilot’s license approximately 40 years ago. Seriously, if you were, like, on board an airplane when some horrific medical event occurred that took out all of the pilots and flight attendants and a desperate person stood up and screamed, “WHO IS GOING TO FLY THIS THING?” … you would want my mom to be there. ‘Cause she would march her tiny little self up to that cockpit, declare that she is SO the boss of it, and then land it safely. After which, she would make everyone brownies because she knows that brownies always make everything better. My mama is a fly girl.

I am, therefore, the daughter of two people who independently, of their own free will, and without guns to their heads chose to operate teeny tiny tin cans WAY up in the air.

You guys, I know that Wilbur and Orville Wright are revered as the grandfathers of aviation and credited with building the world’s first successful airplane. But I’m pretty sure they weren’t so friendly with our good friend, Sanity. Because here’s their story:

Wilbur and Orville Wright:
A History by Beth Woolsey

Two brothers earned a living making bicycles.
Then they were all, “DUDE! Let’s make an airplane!

The End

Which brings me to this: people who launch themselves at fifty-bajillion miles per hour into the air and then keep climbing to 30,000 feet are off their rockers.

And the only thing crazier than flying is listening to flight attendants deliver “emergency landing” instructions prior to take-off as though it’s possible to walk away from A TIN CAN THAT FELL 5.6 MILES TO THE EARTH.

I don’t like to fly.

But I do it. I stick my tongue out, neener-neener style, at my fears and to show them who’s boss. It’s important to me to live my life and to not let my fears live me. Take THAT, Fear of Flying, I shout, giant bottle of Xanax rattling in my upraised fist.

Because I don’t like to pass my Xanax-chewing ways on to my children – all of whom get giggly and say, “WHEEEEE!” upon take-off without the aid of benzodiazepines – I play along with “emergency landing” instruction time.

“Ssshhh,” I say to my kids while flight attendants don their bright yellow life vests and mimic blowing air calmly into the red blow-tubes as though we wouldn’t be passed out from hyperventilating or smoke inhalation or, you know, BEING DEAD. “We have to listen so we know what to do in case of an emergency, kids.”

And then my children pull out the safety instruction cards from the seat pockets in front of them, and, bless their sweet little hearts, they read the whole entire thing. And I, their calm, cool, collected mother who just LOVES airplanes because, by God, I AM FROM GOOD, SOLID PILOT STOCK, answer their questions.

“Mama? Is that a SLIDE?”

“Yes! Doesn’t that look FUN? AND, if we land in water, it’s also a BOAT.”

“WHOA! And why is she taking off her shoes?

“Well, probably so she doesn’t poke a hole in the boatslide with her high heel. That would be bad.”

“TOTALLY BAD, Mom! ‘Cause then the boatslide would SINK and we would ALL DIE, right?”

“Uummm… maybe.”

“Yep, Mom. I’m pretty sure. They’d ALL DIE from being drownded.”

“Ookaaay.”

“And, Mom? This picture is where the WHOLE PLANE IS ON FIRE. Right, Mom?”

“Um. Right, baby. That’s an engine fire. But see how this little book tells us what to do and where to go if the plane is on fire? So do you see which exit we use?”

“Well, yes, Mom. We use that one right back there. But you know what part of this book is my very, very favorite?”

“What part, baby?”

“It’s this part right here.”

“Why, baby?”

“Because this is the part where they’re all already dead, right, Mom? So they don’t even have to do anyfing at all!”

He reported this with a gleam in his eye and rampant enthusiasm.

If I didn’t know better, in fact, I’d think he was messing with me. 

The fearless little punk.

 

 

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
10 comments
  1. Bahaha! Your child is a riot!! 🙂

  2. I love flying but I do consider the irony of the whole emergency routine and if that’s how it really happens…I guess no one who has lived to tell the tale has come forth to confirm or deny it. Hmm.I just ask the angels to fly beside the plane and make sure it’s all good. My kids tell me they can see them, too 🙂

  3. Ok, our kids must have some sort of psychic connection. I HATE to fly. But I have the pleasure of living however hundreds of miles it is from Upstate NY to North GA, where my parents live. And I like to visit them with my kids. For extended periods of time. And my husband has limited vacation time. So I fly with them alone. BOO!
    Anycrap, last time, as we were coming into Greenville, SC, we had a bit of turbulence. When I say a bit, I mean, enough to freak out half the plane with audible gasps, but probably we were all freaked out and feeding on each other. My son decides to pull out the emergency book and proceed to start saying in a not quiet voice, “I think we’re going to crash!” and made me review the ENTIRE book with him. Longest 5 minutes of my life.

    1. Ha!

      OK, Laine. Here’s what you do the next time you’re scared on an airplane. Repeat this statistic to yourself:

      “More people die annually being kicked to death by donkeys than die in airplane crashes.”

      I have no idea whether it’s true, but I heard it once and I loved it to much to find out. FYI, it totally doesn’t work as far as making me less freaked out, but it’s more amusing to other passengers to hear you chanting, “More people die annually being kicked to death by donkeys than die in airplane crashes” than to listen to you scream. 😉

      1. Hahaha! I love it!!

  4. hmmm, and how did you survive as a teenager flying back and forth to boarding school? oh wait, maybe that’s where some of this fear started? 😉 What kind of planes did they put you on over there anyway?

    1. Oh, dear. I could tell 100,000 stories about flying to/from boarding school OVER THE JUNGLE IN A SINGLE ENGINE AIRCRAFT piloted by my father. But I’m gonna need a lot more Xanax.

      My dad flew a Cessna 180 tail dragger. But that was just the first flight of 4 over the course of 3 days between 3 countries (Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines) to get to school. We traveled as a deadly pack of teenagers without adult chaperones. IT WAS AWESOME and totally worth risking our lives in the air. 😉

      Maybe someday I’ll get to tell those stories. But thanks for the rapid heartbeat, Krista!

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