Son number two’s first flight in a private aircraft began with the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles flight experience, which led to several classes at the small executive airport near our home. The final class ended with the youngsters riding shotgun in the co-pilots seat of a private, four-seat aircraft, flying and landing at three different airstrips in the region. Small aircrafts do not frighten me, but I also rarely travel in them. In fact, his two flights (technically four flights counting each taxi and landing) are two times (or is it four times) more small-scale aircraft flights than I have experienced.
In fact, for all my travels, I have only flown upon two aircraft that could even remotely be considered “puddle jumpers.” The first one, on Christmas Day, counted the shorter of two flights to get to Minnesota for the holiday. In my personal opinion, any airplane that still operates with the assistance of propellers, regardless of how many passengers occupy the aircraft, is a small plane. The flight wasn’t terribly long, but nonetheless, when the ground crew at Hartsfield International Airport wheeled steps up to our plane, I knew that counts as either a small plane or a small airport. And anyone who has flown through the Georgia capital knows, the airport does not qualify as petite.
One By Two
I consider myself quite knowledgeable about my home airport. I know where the best parking is, I dine where I can grab the tastiest or fastest food, and I tend to move through security swiftly without much delay. Knowing the busy season and the hectic times, and by avoiding them whenever possible, certainly helps my travel routine. But on one occasion, I arrive near my departing gate only to discover that the number I need is not down any of the three hallways to my right, my left, or straight ahead. Instead, an elevator descends to a hallway tucked under the tramway guiding me to the smallest of planes to take me to the largest of cities in Alabama.
My assigned seat, while being the most forward on the plane of any other passengers, by no means lands me in first class, however, on the upside, my seat offers me both a window seat and an aisle seat. Yes, the Embraer plane features one seat wide on the pilot’s side of the plane, and two seats wide on the co-pilot’s side of the plane. A southern gentleman greets me as I board; he’s a one-man service crew, literally. But as we land in Birmingham, he welcomes us to our destination, he rises to begin the deplaning, and he places a compact disc into a mini music player. The entire cabin fills with the sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd singing proudly about “Sweet Home, Alabama,” providing entertainment all the way to the gate. Sometimes smaller is sweeter.