For many people, the first airplane trip was a momentous event.
Last week, I shared @DoYouRemember’s prompt: “First time on a plane, where did you go?” Some of the responses were of exotic (at least to me) places. However, the stories struck me more than the locations. They ranged from moving to a new continent, entering the US Air Force’s basic training, traveling to be a nanny, and a honeymoon.
Obviously, “Where did you go?” barely scratches the surface of your first airplane trip story. Why did you go there? What were the circumstances? How old were you? Who went with you? How did you feel? How long was the flight? Who was there to greet you at the other end?
Include Transportation Context as in your First Airplane Trip Story
Air travel used to be less ubiquitous and, as a result, more romantic or adventurous. Setting the scene about air travel at the time of your first trip will help your story come alive.
For instance, my first impressions of air travel came from seeing my dad off when he flew away on business trips. I loved those excursions, so much so that I can’t remember missing my dad.
At the Spartanburg-Greenville Regional Jetport (yes, that was an important distinction back before every airport could accommodate jets) I developed my first case of fernweh. I’d feel more than a pang of jealousy as he checked his suitcase with the blue metal Eastern Airlines tag on it. I wanted a suitcase and with a luggage tag that told the world I was someone who went places.
Before his flight, we’d wander through the airport, people-watching and looking at displays, especially the huge diorama of the campus of my dad’s company. Of course, it was Mr. Milliken’s company, but I didn’t think of it that way.
After exploring, riding the escalators, and getting a glass of coke in the bar, we’d hug Daddy goodbye. Then we’d go outside and watch his plane take off. I really miss the times when “seeing someone off” meant more than dropping them off at the departures sidewalk or waving to them as they enter the security checkpoint.
Include a Map and Photos
Thanks to Google and friends, it’s easy to generate a map to show your route and give readers some quick at-a-glance information. For instance, one of my Facebook respondents flew from Durban, South Africa to Salisbury, Rhodesia. Even with the city and country name changes, Google generated a nice graphic.
If you can find one that is the public domain or for which you have permission to use, historical photographs of the place you went (or the place you left, for that matter) can spark readers imaginations. You can write the local historical society or explore online sources. (See Find Historical Images to Illustrate Your Writing.)
Describe Why the Story Matters to You
Whether it was a first trip to Disney or a move between continents, explain what made your first trip via airplane momentous or fun or horrid.
For instance, my mother-in-law’s first airplane trip was from California home to Grand Rapids to show off her newborn daughter. For her, the most memorable parts of the journey were her independence (flying alone with an infant in the 1950s) and the air-sickness. Luckily, there were lots of willing hands wanting to hold the baby in Michigan, because it took her four days to recover.
Brainstorm a few ideas about your first airplane trip. Where did you go?