A light flight - and Planepack takes off
I love flying. I’m not anxious, bored or impatient, I enjoy everything about it, from the airports to the cabin seating, the inflight entertainment, the food and even the turbulence.
My first flight
I discovered that love in 1973, the first time I flew. I’ll never forget that night, the walk across the tarmac, the takeoff and the landing - had we actually touched down? The drive back to Cape Town from Johannesburg was memorable too: my friend Peter was a stylist and we drove in his VW combi with giant polystyrene arms on the roof racks, their hands reaching out for the road. This was my first taste of travel freedom.
My second flight was another adventure. I was in my first year at university and like most students, short of money. My friends Susi and Ekke recommended me to Dirk: ‘He needs someone to tidy up his Gardens Centre flat. You’ll be perfect.’
Dirk employed me to clean his apartment, but I’m not the best housekeeper.
‘Wass!’ Dirk would run his hand over the shelves, ‘Ein bischen dusty still,’ or some such comment, but Dirk was fun and fancied me so soon the flat cleaning came to an end as we exchanged brooms for dinners.
My second flight
Dirk had recently passed his pilot’s licence and to show off his flying skills he drove me one day to a small field between Stellenbosch and Somerset West where we boarded a two-seater Cessna. Dirk revved the engine, accelerated - and we lifted off the grassy strip into the sky. I remember that we took off at 65 miles an hour: slower than traveling in a motor car!
‘This is fun, ja,’ grinned Dirk as he manoeuvred the joystick.
‘Yes,’ I quavered. 'I can see the coast. Oops! And now I can see the sea,' as we tilted away from the land.
In hindsight, I’m surprised that I was brave enough to fly with Dirk, a novice pilot, but at the time, I didn’t consider it dangerous: it was gorgeous.
We flew over False Bay, crossed the Peninsula near Cape Point, skirted the coast to Table Bay and landed at D. F. Malan Airport. I always remember the sight of the long and wide runway as we made the approach, floating down in our tiny Cessna. We were Lilliputians to the airport’s Gulliver.
‘Dat vas wunderbar,’ said Dirk. ‘Ve do it again, ja?’
Sadly we never did do that again, but these days I still get a thrill, that sense of adventure, newness and possibility with each flight.
I love flying, but I don’t like carrying heavy luggage - nor do I like it getting delayed, or worse still, lost - which is why I fly with with hand luggage only.