The Barenaked Ladies tune goes through my head as I think about what I would do if I were rich. Yes, I’d do my bit to make the world a better place, but if I had a little left after solving a few of the world’s problems, I’d buy a plane. And not just any old plane. I love the Lockheed planes of the 1930s. They were flying works of art. This is a picture of the iconic Lockheed L-10 Electra. Amelia Earhart flew in one, albeit highly modified model, when she disappeared during her attempt to fly around the world in 1937. I even love the Lockheed Vega. What gorgeous planes, although I’m sure there are only a few still in flying condition.
I’ve loved planes and been fascinated with flight for a long time. My family had a Cessna 172 when I was growing up. It looks like Cessna is still making them. My father shared ownership with a co-worker of his. It was before aviation fuel prices and private plane insurance made it prohibitive to own a plane. I loved flying. We used to go on Sunday flights and short trips. My brother actually got to handle the controls once, but I wasn’t old enough before we sold it.
I suppose it was one of the reasons that I started my university career in aeronautical and astronautical engineering before switching over to journalism. (The change made sense at the time and continues to make sense.) But flight is one of those really magical experiences. I suppose it seems so commonplace now, and it’s so easy when you’re sitting in a huge jetliner to forget how amazing of an experience flight is. I was reminded a few years ago when I went to Alaska and flew in a bush plane out into the middle of Wrangell-St Elias National Park.
The pilot was crazy in a good way. When he picked us up, the cloud deck was just at mountain peak level. He pulled the plane right over the top of the mountains and landed on a postage stamp landing strip in the middle of nowhere. He ducked over the mountains at the other end of the valley and took us back just as the weather was settling in with snow topping the peaks in mid-August. You get a feeling for what it must have been for those early pioneers of flight when you fly like that. The ride was well worth the price of admission. Oh well, having a 1930s Lockheed is probably a pipe dream, but I definitely will make it back to Alaska.