I gasped this morning when I heard that an Air France flight was "missing." My sharp intake of breath startled me, because it's not often that one literally gasps. It was early, before seven, when I heard the news on the radio; it was still a breaking story; they didn't have many details, and, at first, I couldn't believe it. How do you lose a commercial jet in this day and age? I wondered, because I really thought that such calamities were all in the past, pure fiction today found only on TV and in the movies. My heart went out to those on the plane and their loved ones.
I probably have a bit more interest in airline news than the average citizen. Most people have heard of the military varieties of brats, but I'm of a lesser-known type, the airline brat. My parents met and were married while working for TWA in the early 60's. I took my first plane trip at 6 months and spent a great deal of my childhood and teen-aged years jet-setting around the world. We didn't have money, but we did have term passes-- little plastic cards that enabled us to fly in any vacant seat for a pittance, and thanks to my mother, travel we did. (Of course as we grew older, first class was always our choice.)
Many things have changed in my lifetime, but none so drastically as air travel. Flying is barely recognizable to me now. It's not only that TWA and Pan Am, the two major US airlines of the 20th century, have been gone since 2001 and 1991, respectively. And it's not the extra security, although I remember vividly the days when anyone could stroll down to the gate to meet an arriving passenger, or the 10-40 extra seats crammed onto every plane. It's not just the food (What food? There's nothing to even make fun of anymore.) or the baggage charge. I guess it's more that flying used to be kind of fun, but now it's just a necessary nuisance.
Come to think of it, I've heard some teachers describe school in close to those words. Hmm. Maybe they should drive.