I was waiting for a flight to Portland yesterday, at the airport. Watching my surroundings at the gate, I began to muse about the flight aspect of my book, River of January. In the narrative, Chum left the Navy in 1933 finding there were only a handful of disparate companies that handled air cargo. These businesses had tried their hand at passenger travel in the 20’s, but costly overhead expenses put an end to that option.
Then Congress stepped in, underwriting airmail flights, and consolidating routes, that ended in the creation of the Federal Aviation Administration by the late 1950’s. Travel after that boost, was best characterized by glamor and style. People enjoyed spacious seating, formal dining on small white tablecloths, glass plates and silverware. The food was fresh and hot–served by attentive stewardesses.
Now, I watch an over sized middle aged biker, sporting a wormy little ponytail pounding a pinball machine in an alcove. He is clad in a loose, black t-shirt with the sleeves cut off, and his jeans riding on his butt crack. Another woman is chattering loudly on her cell phone with great enthusiasm. She’s clearly an open, affable lady. Most of the other few folks booked on this flight are eating cold food, purchased from overpriced vendors dotted beyond the security gate. The area feels more like a bus depot.
Then abruptly, out of the floor to ceiling windows, a small canary yellow biplane soars across the glass, piloted by a loan aviator.
It’s nice to know that for some, like Mont Chumbley, the wonder of flight has remained timeless.