As many of you may know, and few of you may not know, I have a brother. And right now he is on an airplane on his way to Japan. At least I think that he is on an airplane right now. See, I forgot to get his flight number so I can’t do that obsessive thing that I wrote about down below where I check on the flight over and over to see what’s going on. So I’m sure that we all wish him Godspeed and all that stuff.
I’m not really jealous of the fact that he’s going to Japan. I don’t really want to go to Japan. If I was going somewhere in Asia, I’d definitely want to go to Shanghai. But what I am insanely jealous of is the fact that he gets to take part in such a long international flight. Now I know what you’re thinking. “Nathan, you silly twat! He’s going to be stuck in an airplane for 17 hours.” Well yes, that might be true, but to me, that’s really exciting.
See, I’m sort of an aviation buff. I fly all over the world in flight simulator, and I read lots and lots about the processes and procedures of flying. There is a pilot, Tony Valillo, who writes columns for flightsim.com and I read them over and over. He goes through literally everything that goes on during a flight, from driving to the airport, to preflight, to flight planning, and the actual flying, as well as the history of flying. They are fascinating, and I love taking all of them in.
So right now Phil is a part of that. And even though he’s just sitting there, if he knew what was good for him, he could spend 17 hours just imagining what the pilot is doing, wondering about alternate landing sites, fuel burn rates, ETOPS specifications, what the approach into the airport in Japan is like, and all sorts of goodness like that. And he could imagine how it would have been just 60 years ago, flying across the Pacific in a big Pan-Am clipper, taking 3 times as long and having the navigation done by things such as star fixes and flaming beakers thrown out of the back of the plane to calculate drift as opposed to GPS and IRS that is used now.
I think it is sort of a shame that flying has become what it has. A cattle car where everyone wants it to be over as soon as possible. As weird as it sounds, one of the things that I’m looking forward to most about going to Puerto Rico is the flight. Since the last time I was on a plane I’ve really learned a world and a half about flying, and it will be fun to think about all of that stuff on the way. Hell, I might even fire up flight simulator and take a 717 to Atlanta, swap over to a 737 and book it to San Juan.