I look out the window, down at an engine so big I could stand up inside it. Of course it has to be big to move something as big as a building: a building that will be flying miles up in the air in a few minutes. I tighten my seat belt.
This is my first flight, and it’s just me and Dad. Dad works for the airline, in an office, not as a pilot. But, as he points out, airplanes need a lot more people than just the pilots.
“Take a look at what everyone does,” he says. “See which you think is the best.”
I watch the baggage handlers driving out to the plane in a little car with trailers loaded with bags hooked in a train behind. That might be good job, I think, driving a little train around all day.
They start to lift off the heavy bags and heave them onto a conveyor belt going up into the airplane. I remember how heavy my suitcase was, then multiply that by thousands of bags.
People are still shuffling down the aisle, looking for their seats. The flight attendants hurry back and forth, helping people get their carry-on bags into the overhead compartments and slamming them closed.
That could be a good job, helping people and traveling all over the world.
Everyone finally sits and the flight attendants start talking, doing a pantomime to show the exits and the masks and the seat belts.
How many times do they have to say this every day?
Maybe I wouldn’t want to be a flight attendant after all.
I look out and we are moving. It was so soft I did not even feel it. I watch as we move away from the airport. A man with colored paddles directs the plane. Now, that could be fun, telling all the huge planes where to go and being out in the fresh air all day.
The fresh air and the fumes of dozens of airplanes. In the heat and cold and rain and snow.
There is no perfect job, I guess.
We move out to the maze of runways until we stop at the end of a very long one. Everything seems to be waiting. My stomach gets all fluttery although I don’t know why. A minute passes, then another one.
The engines start rising in pitch. This is it. They keeping going up and up and immediately the plane jumps forward. I’m pressed back into my seat as the noise increases and the vibrations make me feel like this is a rocket blasting off into space. We keep going faster, and I see the airport and all those parked planes whip past. We must be near the end of the runway by now.
And then the plane tips up and the vibrations smooth out. We are off the ground. I look out the window and see the ground falling away below us, so fast it makes me dizzy. A minute later, I can see the whole city spread out and the cars on the road look like lines of ants. We hit a cloud and everything turns white-gray outside.
“Your first take-off,” my dad says, smiling at me. “What do you think?”
“I liked it,” I said, although I’m not sure I want to do it again very soon. “Now what?”
“Eat, sleep, watch movies, whatever you want,” he says. It sounds like being a passenger is the best.
Is that a job?