My First Plane Ride
By Iva Bailey
The other night when Judy, my daughter came home from Seattle, where she works, she was showing me her plane ticket to Hawaii she had gotten that day. She is all excited about taking her vacation in Hawaii this year. It brought back memories of my one and only airplane ride sometime in the 1930’s. I must have been about 15 at the time.
My girlfriend Bernice was a couple of years older than I was and was able to get a job at the Puyallup Fair in a hamburger concession. That was the year there was an added attraction at the fair. A man who had a small plane was taking passengers up over the city and fairgrounds.
The flight started in the parking lot at the fair and Bernice’s concession was close by so the pilot often ate lunch there. Before Fair week was over my friend became acquainted with the pilot and he offered to take her for a ride. He told her she could take a friend. She asked me to go along.
I will never forget that ride. The plane was a two-seater affair. The pilot sat in the front seat and the passenger in the back seat. There was really only suppose to be one passenger but there was room for two small people if they sat close together. It was all open air and when we started up the wind stung my face and tore at my hair. It seemed as though we were going straight up, it wasn’t so bad until we flew over the Puyallup River and hit a down draft. We dropped so far I thought we would never stop. Looking down the city blocks looked like tiny squares. It was so noisy from the rush of wind and the sound of the motor Bernice and I couldn’t hear each other when we tried to talk so we just clung to to-gether.
Coming down was even more scary but we landed alright and I was sure glad to feel the ground under my feet when we got out of the plane.
When I got back home, feeling brave and proud at what I had done, I found my dad had a different feeling about my escapade. Until then I thought of it as just another midway ride, maybe a little more scary than most, but to my dad, it was something else. Looking back now I can feel how my dad must have felt. Airplanes were fairly a new thing. They weren’t tested or kept in repair like they are today. Dad had started out with covered wagons and horses. He accepted cars but he never wanted to fly. I guess some of his fear was instilled in me that day because I have always been hesitant to fly again.
When my brother Verle went into the Air Force during the Second World War, only I knew the fear in my Dad’s heart. He never let on to my brother how he felt. I can still see his face pale when we would hear of a plane lost over Italy where Verle was.
My kids couldn’t wait to take their first plane rids. I watched my two boys take off over the Pacific, Jerry to Korea and Jack to Viet Nam and I watched them come back again.
Now Judy is going to Hawaii but the plane that will take her there is a lot different from the one I flew in that memorable day and maybe some day soon I’ll say a little prayer and fly away too.