"The real voyage of Discovery lies not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes"
Marcel Proust

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Air Travel Guide Across Missouri

Last week my family and I flew out from Kansas City International Airport (KCI) to New York City. I love my road trips, but the view out an airplane window is mesmerizing. Cars move like little armies of ants in line on the highways. Multi-colored quadrilateral agricultural fields quilt the earth. Stormy clouds pass above you and below you. There's so much to see up there and you see it all in such a different way. It reminds me of that Proust quote we use in our I-70 book about "seeing with new eyes" the landscape we have taken for granted.

I watch downtown Kansas City scroll by my scratched up oval window. Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadium come into view and also scroll out to the right. We're traveling I-70 by air. Hmm... could I use our book thousands of feet above the interstate? It worked on Amtrak, maybe it will work on Southwest Airlines. As I was peering down trying to find landmarks I saw this one
and knew exactly where I was-- Mile 30,White Industries. I could see the huge 4,400-foot-long runway underneath us. At first I thought it was another airport, but then his inventory of 2,600 planes came into view. From the interstate you can see only the 1960s vintage Lear 23 jet in his front yard. It is impossible to see this view from anywhere but his backyard or the skies above.

White Industries is one of the largest suppliers of used airframe, engine, and avionics parts. Some planes are flown in while others have to roll down the highway within another transportation vehicle. Some of his planes have come from such remote places as a glacier in Greenland and an African forest.

As we traveled on further south I saw some of our other stories-- a glimpse of the Ozarks to the south (although, once again, more than a glimpse as we kept climbing towards our cruising altitude), small towns among the ag fields, cemeteries and schools.

It would be great to have interpreters on airplanes. Sure you can use the airline app to somewhat figure out where you are (but not really). The plane on the app I was using was the length of over 3 cities (that's one big plane!) and made it difficult to tell where we were. If interpretive sky travel guides could stroll the aisles and tell us what we were seeing how time would fly. Okay, bad pun, but it would be such a richly informative and entertaining trip. But they barely have room to push that little beverage cart down the aisle and not enough funding to give us more than a tea-bag size bag of peanuts (get out the EpiPen.)But I'd pay for an interpretive sky travel guide. "Can you see the...?" "Did you know that you're directly over....?" "See how the...?" I could put down my magazine and listen to the stories as I pass over like Peter Pan in Neverland.

Now I'm resisting the urge to write interpretive travel guides for airliners. We could put them in the little pouches just behind the safety instruction sheet. Safety first.  What a variety we could write-- and have alternative stories for when weather causes detours.Winter could throw a cold blanket on the land, but the worst part would be the plane ticket cost we'd have to endure flying back and forth to double-check all our stories and sites. Anyway, as you travel this summer, we hope you enjoy all the stories that you see from the road and the skies!