This Wasn’t My First Flight, but I Thought it Might be My Last

Some people like to fly. They have no problem climbing into that long metal tube and jetting around the world.

But I’m not one of those people.

I like keeping my feet on the ground. Or on the gas pedal.

However, I have flown. Several times. I flew to Hawaii with no real problem. Well, there was one slight, itsy-bitsy problem – they only had three bad movies to choose from on the flight. I mean, how many times can you watch 50 First Dates before you’re ready to jump off the plane. But they showed Adam Sandler over and over, with no regard for passenger safety. Someone should really look into that.

After a disastrous date on a plane ride, I didn't swear to never fly again. But I didn't promise TO fly, either.

After a disastrous date on a plane ride, I didn’t swear to never fly again. But I didn’t promise TO fly, either.

The first time I flew, it was a short flight from Little Rock to Houston. I didn’t notice any problems with that flight . . . probably because I passed out and finally awoke to the sight of a stewardess throwing water in my face some 30 minutes after we landed.

But the flight itself? Nooooo problem!

In fact, that only real problem I had with flying came not on a commercial flight, but on something much, much smaller.

It was spring of 1991, and I had just started dating my future wife. I was working at a small newspaper in southwest Arkansas, and she was going to school and working in Little Rock.

Early on in our dating, she told me that her boss had invited her to go flying. He was a pilot, and owned a small plane. Would I like to go?

Of course, I said. After all, what was there to worry about? Sure I didn’t like flying. And, yes, it’s true, I did get motion sick on any trip that was, say, anything longer than two and a half blocks. But what could possibly go wrong with this?

The answer: EVERYTHING.

Being pretty much still a newbie to flying, I didn’t realize that traveling on a plane that was about the size of my Volkswagen Bug that I drove at the time was significantly different than flying a large plane.

But I found out very quickly. Like around the 12 second mark of the trip.

We took off, and that was probably the last moment than any one of the three of us enjoyed. Once we were in the air, I immediately felt every bump and turn that we took.

I told Tracie and the pilot that I was feeling really sick. And did he have anything I could take, like a parachute.

Nope, nothing like that. Or Dramamine either. But he did have a box, which he allowed me to use as my, ahem, bag for the rest of the trip.

When I start feeling motion sick in the car, I can often control it by simply focusing on the road ahead. But up in the air, there was no road. Or road signs. Or trees. There was just . . . open space all around.

So there we were, my future wife and her boss chatting away, trying their best to enjoy the trip. And there I was, clutching to the box like I would a life-preserver while retching up everything I had eaten that day, along with the previous week.

We finally landed in a town that was about two hours away from Little Rock by car. I didn’t want to be dramatic. So I exited the plane, fell on all fours, kissed the ground, and stubbornly refused to EVER board that plane again, claiming I would walk home instead. I would have become legendary among the legions of other women who have walked home in the middle of a date. Oh, wait . . .

I don’t know how, but somehow they convinced me not to start walking home. And somehow they convinced me to get back on the plane.

The lively banter between girlfriend and boss had disappeared, along with anything that I had eaten in what felt like the last year. I’m sure he was thinking, what in the hell have I gotten myself into. And why is she dating him?

I don’t even want to know what Tracie was thinking? But when we got back, she didn’t immediately break up with me. Or even kill me.

Nope, somehow she stuck with me.

But I did notice that she didn’t want to go anywhere on our honeymoon that required flying . . .

 

  3 comments for “This Wasn’t My First Flight, but I Thought it Might be My Last

  1. June 30, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    I cannot believe you got back on the plane! Or that the pilot let you back on the plane. Or that Tracy went out with you again. Are you sure this isn’t just one if those bad movies you’re so fond if watching?

    • July 1, 2014 at 9:04 am

      Ha! Nope, this really and truly happened. To this day, I still don’t know how they talked me into getting back on that plane. Needless to say, her boss never invited me for a ride again 🙂

  2. July 1, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Mark, I closely relate to this one and thoroughly enjoyed your story! This girl must have really loved you to marry you after that experience 🙂

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