January 25, 2013: Not Always a Frequent Flyer

Grandpa and I...the year he arranged my first flight on a crop duster
One would probably be surprised with my current frequent flyer status that I didn't step foot on a plane until the age of nineteen. With the exception of earning a "First Time Flyer" certificate in the 70's after a scary ride on a crop duster, this is a true statement.

Our family vacations during my childhood were road trips. We took annual trips to Okoboji and Omaha; sprinkled in with ocassional adventures north to Minnesota and south to Kansas City. There were no flights to the coastal states or worrying about checking bags or catching flights. Our worries were on rolling the seat belts to get them out of our way and setting of the imginary lines in between my brothers and I in the back seat of the car.

This all changed when my young and courageous parents decided to move from their comfortable existence in Remsen, Iowa to the sunny elements of Kingman, Arizona. This big life change (for all of us) occured in 1986.

My parents purchased tickets for my brother, Matt, and I to visit them in the desert state during the holidays the winter of 86. Since Matt and I were attending college in Iowa, our Grandpa Gib, still living in the comfortable confines of Remsen, agreed to drive us to the Sioux City airport for our early morning flight.

As I drove to the airport this morning, I remembered a similiar cold morning twenty-six years prior when I boarded my first Boeing plane. Hundreds of flights later, I now have the pre-flight rountine down with ease. That morning many years ago, included a grandfather who liked to be early and would make sure our pre-board was without a hitch as well. In fact, he was a bit obsessive as he insisted that we arrive two hours prior "just in case".

The pressure was on as I blew dry my hair with the sound of my grandpa's car running in the car port with him sitting in it. I think his plan was to get us there three hours early. He patiently waited and warmed up the car in the dead of winter. The hum of the engine was a constant reminder to hurry up; we needed to go.

Matt was a frequent flyer at this point in our young lives. He had just completed a two year stint in the Army which took him on many assignments, including Germany. Planes were an old hat to him. He had brotherly fun as he sensed my nervousness on my first flight. This started with made up stories on what "could happen" if the de-icing fluid, in fact, didn't work. On every bump of turbulence, he would grab my arm or make comments like "that's never happened on other flights I was on...wonder if there is a problem???" Gotta love the teasing of an older brother.

After a safe landing in Las Vegas that cold morning in 1986 and many, many flights later; I am now a seasoned traveler. I trust in the de-icer and don't give turbulance a second thought. Matt and I haven't flown together since this flight. And Grandpa Gib would not be happy with my habit of cutting it close with typical airport arrival of less than an hour before flight time (with the added element of TSA). As a side note, I am writing this blog on the airplane mid-flight to Las Vegas...in-flight wi-fi is dreamy. Yes indeed, times have certainly changed since that first flight out of the SC airport.


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