Grant McGee: Airplane travel still amazing

Grant McGee

The morning broke crystal-clear and cool the other day, a beautiful High Plains morning.

I was outside tending to my chores when the sound of a jet caught my ear; that jet noise from far away and high above. I scanned the wide blue yonder and saw it way up there. Five miles? Seven miles?

I don’t know about these things but it was high, a little silver thing almost lost in the vastness of the sky.

When I was a kid I remember pilots announcing to the passengers that they were flying over this or that landmark like, “Ladies and gentlemen if you look out your right side windows you will see The Grand Canyon.”

Did the pilot in this plane tell the folks on board they were flying over Fort Sumner, Melrose, Clovis, Portales, Texico, Farwell or Muleshoe? I bet he didn’t.

A few years ago I took a road atlas with me on a flight from El Paso to Orlando. If nobody was going to tell me what I was zooming over I was going to try to figure it out. This caught the attention of a flight steward.

“Know where we are?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “Do you?”

“No, it’s all pretty routine to me,” he said. “Unless we’re over water, then it’s really boring.”

Some of the most amazing things are all pretty routine now, but airplane flight still wows me. That we can hop in a winged metal tube, zoom above the clouds and zip over hundreds of miles in hours instead of days is still “neat-o” to me.

Yeah, I wonder what those passengers saw. Maybe flying is so routine no one was even looking down. I suppose no one saw me waving at them either, wishing them “Bon voyage” on that sunny High Plains morning.