Awe

I catch a lot of planes. Believe me, that is not a brag. After a while, catching a plane is as mundane an activity as catching a bus except with a lot longer wait time to embark, to take your seat (always go the aisle seat), to listen to the flight instructions and to wait on that first little bottle of wine. Oh, that’s right, buses don’t serve you wine.

So I’m in Adelaide, waiting on a passenger boarding bridge to board a plane. There is a fair line in front of me, as each passenger to be produces their boarding pass for the air stewardy person. Thus allowing them to enter the plane and find their designated seat. The line is not moving. I’m bored and a little restless. This flight will take me home and I kinda wanna be there now. So I’m standing in line on the passenger boarding bridge. Staring into the middle distance.

By the way, a PBB is also known as the jet bridge, jetway, gangway, aerobridge, airbridge, air jetty, portal and skybridge. Or what I knew it as before I googled just for this essay, the thingamajig. My favourite from that list is air jetty.

This particular passenger boarding bridge was slightly different than most PBBs that I’ve come across. Normally they are enclosed and fully covered rectangular tubes, giving the effect that we are being sucked into the belly of a giant speckled bird. In this instance, the tube was windowed. So, my middle distance was the going-ons on the tarmac and beyond.

The boarding bridge extra-large window kind of seemed like a huge screen TV. At first, that is how I responded to what entered my view from the top left of the screen. It was simply another plane on its descent into Adelaide airport. I almost didn’t give it a second thought. But this imposing sight and its spectacular feat refused to blur into the multitude of other middle distance attractions.

The TV screen view kinda gave the plane the appearance that it was traveling in slow motion. From my position I could sketch the triangular movement of its descent. This incredible portable carriage, weighing hundreds of thousands of kilograms, with all those lives and cargo in its care was about to land at a speed and precision that was breath-taking. And I took a deep breath. The wheels hovered a metre above the runway for what felt like an impossibly long time before they seem to find their traction (almost magnetised) and then you felt the rush of speed as the plane fairly raced away, all the while braking at a calculation that eased the plane gradually to a stop without giving three hundred guests whiplash.

In a moment it was landed, all that colour and movement, energy and ectropy packed away. Another plane on another runway cruising to its terminal to release a confetti of passengers into the airport and on their way.

I catch a lot of planes. I’m in a designated seat (aisle hopefully) reading a music magazine or listening to my playlist as the plane finds its land legs and moves its big body to my disembarkment point. I pay it little mind. Standing on the air jetty thingamajig in Adelaide it was like I was watching a plane land for the very first time. My awe was palpable. I saw the magnificence of the human project in real time. Or one small aspect of it. I was consumed by the greatness within which we live our ordinary lives. What you take for granted today will be what you don’t understand tomorrow.

The 2016 footy season is but awakening. My kids’ (Mercedes, 16 and Jackson, 14) pre-season training is underway, even while the cricket season has finals to be played. For the next six months footy fans will be sucked in to every other observation about the business side of footy or the tawdry side of footy or the inelegance of the sport or the unfairness within. We can’t not be taken by these things. In all of that noise take a moment to remind yourself of what the 12 year old you loved about the game. Find the awe. The beauty of the world. Or the precious little bit of it that lies at the heart of footy.

About Rick Kane

Up in the mornin', out on the job Work like the devil for my pay But that lucky old sun has nothin' to do But roll around Heaven all day

Comments

  1. Well said, Rick. And some keen observations.

    I still love the game, but find myself increasingly disconnected from
    and disinterested by all the white noise which surrounds it.

  2. Nice read.

    Speaking of essay’s to do with plane travel, I read this brilliant piece the other day. Do yourself’s a favour

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/06/13/turbulence

  3. “… to release a confetti of passengers…”; just a wonderful image!

    Two images stick out for me in season 2015; a high-flying mark and a player riding a bump with poise and balance.

    In both instances I can’t remember if my team won the match or who we were playing. But the balance, timing, strength and bravery of the athletes in those two instances has stayed with me.

    I am more in awe now than as a twelve year old, because I have a greater appreciation of how hard it is to do the things that the players do. As a 12 year old I wanted to be like them; now, I know I won’t.

  4. Nice one RK. I’m currently in awe of the magnificent blooming Crepe Myrtles that line the streets near my house. They are superb. I’m also looking forward to the beauty of Paddy Dangerfield jagging his first sausage roll in the hoops.

  5. Thanks Rick.

    Flight and planes are astonishing. I also love airports. There’s excitement every way you turn.

    We took an A-380 from Singapore to Dubai last year and the scale and size were astonishing. The pre-take off announcement that we would be attended by 25+ personnel was remarkable.

    Changi Airport and Heathrow are among my favourite places. These power the imagination.

    But my favourite airport is Koh Samui. It’s a open sided hut, and gateway to a Buddhist paradise.

    Ripper.

  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Nice observations Slim,
    I’m always in awe when taking off and landing, particularly of the slow miniaturization and magnification of all below. Not sure if you are a Louis CK fan, but this piece about appreciating the effort that has gone in to making air travel mundane is quite funny I reckon. “You’re sitting on a chair in the sky.” Enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFsOUbZ0Lr0

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Hey Rick, Adelaide’ll do that to ya. Plenty of perspective on offer from where you were. Thanks for yours.

    Dips, I didn’t know a crepe myrtle from a crepe banner until the last few weeks, but they were pretty magnificent around my way too.

  8. Bragger

  9. Thanks for your comments and thoughts. Even yours Les!

    Spot on MR re Koh Samui. Thought we had landed on Gilligan’s Island. Love the island. Sang Cocaine Blues with a busker at the Bophut markets before settling in for a couple of beers at a bar called Cash, named after the great man.

  10. Love this piece of writing, Rick…Awesome

    And as an aside..
    Favourite airport: Bathurst Is, Nguiu…. There they have a road that cuts beneath the flight path with a Give Way to aircraft sign for the passing traffic !

  11. Vron Clarke says

    Your words are like art Rick…..they paint a picture I can see and I’m not normally able to visualise! Love the discussion this has created about airports. We were gob smacked when we visited Gibraltar off the South of Spain and had to wait at the pedestrian crossing for a plane to land then crossed the tarmac from Spanish soil onto British soil!

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