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BC’s BDOS: ZR in the sky?

B C Pires

BC’s BDOS: ZR in the sky?

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IT IS, no doubt, a sign of a distressing inability to relinquish an adolescent outlook even well into middle age, but I just love flying. I don’t like airports much and don’t like immigration officers (except for Caribbean ones) at all, at all, but I love flying!
As long as I have a window seat and the view isn’t obscured by clouds, I don’t even have to read. I can stare happily at the earth below from London to Moscow. Flying over New Orleans last year, I spotted the Astrodome where Hurricane Katrina refugees improved their social lot (according to Barbara Bush) and wanted to parachute down and tell people in the parking lot I’d just seen them from the air.
Aged 18, I had the incredible good luck to sit in the cockpit jump seat of an L-1011 stacked up over Heathrow; we circled London’s West End and I had a full forward view of Big Ben, the River, Westminster, St Paul’s, Tower Bridge – it was better than Universal Studio’s Harry Potter ride.
I can gaze at only sky and cloud carpet for what would be for most adults a stupefyingly long time; I’m not medicated, just amazed I am actually in the air! What a wonderful Western world we live in, in which almost anyone – garbage man, window-cleaner, KFC fry guy – can buy the experience mankind has craved since cavemen first looked up at birds. What would Leonardo da Vinci or Jules Verne have given to have lived now and been able to hop on a LIAT from Martinique to Guadeloupe!
Regretfully, it is also a mark of the uneducated world we live in that so many of us take flight – actually being in the air – for granted. Check out how studiously bored the garbage man or window-cleaner or KFC fry guy who gets on a plane appears to be with the whole routine.
Even we simple Caribbean folk – and, the older I get, the happier I am to think of myself as a simple Caribbean man instead of the sophisticated Londoner or New Yorker I once wanted to be – even we, who are lucky to remain connected to the fundamental goodness of living, feign indifference to flight; it puts roast breadfruit in jeopardy.
The garbage man and the window-cleaner take their attitude from the Bajan and Trini professionals they emulate: they want an aisle seat and an iPad or laptop computer or smartphone to play electronic games; they’re way too cool to look out of a plane window and get excited.
Indeed, they’re bored! They let out an almighty steups and squeeze up in their seat and try their best to sleep – while the planet they have left below them passes, not just unmarvelled at, but entirely unseen.
And so we overlook the great wonder of our age and see only its negative aspects. Try to talk to someone about the relative miracle of commercial flight and conversation runs inevitably away into a carbon footprint gutter. What should be seen as a heavenly opportunity turns, merely from our inability to see, into a ZR in the sky.
• B.C. Pires is flying solo. Email your flight plans to him at [email protected]