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ode to a supersonic plane

[The Concorde's last flight]

concorde.jpgWatching the Concorde was a ritual for Natalie and I, when she was younger and impressed by such things. We would wait every morning for the tell-tale rumble, the slight shaking of the ground. We always felt and heard the jet minutes before it would appear in the sky like a futuristic bird.

As the rumble grew louder and nearer, Natalie would yell excitedly "It's coming mommy! It's coming!" Outside we would go, necks craned, eyes upward, waiting for our glimpse at the wonders of modern aviation.

Natalie fancied the Concorde to be the ultimate in travel. She would save any money she got for birthdays or holidays, put it away in a coffee can and tell anyone who would listen that she was saving up so she could take a trip on the Concorde.

The awe was not just my child's; it was mine as well. The sleek shape of the jet, the way in which it cut through the sky like a rocket, the noise and tremors it caused all took my breath away. How far techonolgy had come, I thought, to create something so beautiful, so powerful. Not many people can see beauty in a plane, I know. But there was something about the Concorde that made me view it as if it were art. The downward nose and the outstretched wings and yes, the idea that there were rich, important people flying in that piece of modern art certainly gave it part of its appeal.

Until 9/11, I considered it a privilege to live so close to an airport, to be able to see the beauty and grace of air flight up close every day. I didn't mind the noise levels or the occasional rattle of my dishes; I was lucky to be able to lay on my lawn and look skyward, watching the landing gear emerge from the belly of the plane. Sometimes the planes would fly so low that I imagined the people on board could see me; when I was a child I often waved to the passengers.

That joy of watching airplanes is slowly coming back. The fear of them has dissipated a bit in the 19 months since 9/11. Sometimes, when the flight pattern changes due to bad weather and the jets scream so low over my roof that the kids playing football on the lawn stop in mid-play, worried looks on their faces, I still get nervous. But mostly, I am back to feeling privileged at my ability to step outside and see the glory of air travel every day, almost up close.

I will miss the approach of the Concorde and that starstruck feeling that surged through me every time it graced my presence. But I'll always have those moments to remember, when Natalie held tight to my arm as the jet neared, giddy with anticipation.

So long, Concorde. Thanks for the memories.

Comments

It was incredable to fly on also. I always wanted to go again.

Yep. I live in lynbrook so were not to far from them. When Im down in the rockaway area it blows my mind seeing them so upclose. Sadely I think the fear of when they were use for will always be there to some very small degree.

Beautiful and moving post.

Hey-

Good writing points you to a place inside yourself that you otherwise would never have known was there, doesn't it?

When I was a kid, I loved jets. We lived near an airport, too, and my Dad would take my twin brother and I up to the observation deck to watch jets take off and land.

9/11 blasted away whatever shreds of that awe and wonder might have remained. I haven't been on a jet since then, don't really want to. Now instead of graceful silver birds, jets look to me like pipe bombs with wings. And this transition had come without me ever even knowing it.

Thanks for helping me win back a little bit of that feeling with your post. I never got to ride on the Concorde, and I really, really wanted to.

D

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Not many people can see beauty in a plane, I know.
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There are more than you know who feel this way, although I can only speak for myself and my kids.

I grew up in the flight path of National Airport in DC, and while most thought that a bane - I thought it wonderful. Yes, after a while adults learned to 'tune them out' - (the drone of the propellers, and later - the roar of the jets) but as a kid - I always wondered what wonderful adventures people were leaving for - or arriving from!

Later, as an adult - for a short while I lived in the flight path of the Concorde as it would be flying into/out of Dulles in VA. It was truly a flying work of art. As someone with an engineering background, I realize that it's function dictated it's design - but every once in a while, engineers with the soul of an artist can work such a wonder as the Concorde. I feel saddened at it's passing from regular use - and will feel more so when the British Airways makes their last Concorde flights in October - signaling the end of an era. ::heavy sigh::

I look forward to the day when supersonic flight my yet again be a reality, but lament the fact that it likely won't be quite as beautiful an aircraft.

I used to love plane travel, but I don't really any more, and not because of fear or anything like that, but because the experience has grown immeasurably in crappiness over the past two years - stupid welfare-queen airlines, stupid govt dicksticks slamming and padlocking the barn door after the cows are gone!

Btw, "Ode to a Supersonic Plane" would be a kickass song title - can I use it someday? _

Did your daughter ever get to fly on a Concorde before they retired them?

Love the post, I'm an airplane freak. There's an Eat 'n Park restaurant right under the approach to Pittsburgh International- I take my 3 year old there frequently to watch the planes go over after lunch or dinner.

I regret that I never saw Concorde either on the ground or in the air. Now it's too late. sigh