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One of the things that I always enjoyed, which unfortunately came to a halt was flying. From the age of 6 to 13, every Saturday, or sometimes Friday, my father and I would go to the nearby airport – just a little smaller than Hagerstown Regional – and fly. My father had his pilot’s license, and after the price rising significantly, we had to stop. Generally, I hated middle school – flying was my way out. I was my father’s co-pilot. I still know how to do the radio calls, and once the plane was up in the air, I had a basic understanding of what to do. It was called the Royal Selangor Flying Club. I remember everything; the way it looked, the things I heard, the things I felt and even the smell.
As we drive into the parking lot, my heart races almost fast enough to pop out of my chest. I barely slept the night before – I was and am overly excited. As we walk down the road, 4 or more planes are lined up. Today happens to be the day I see another plane land and being parked. To me, there was nothing more magnificent than seeing planes lined up, getting ready to be flown. As inanimate as they were, I felt that these machines had personalities when up in the air and on the ground. I felt that they were looking at us and wondered amongst themselves, “who’s going to fly today”? Feet and feet away is the runway, covered in ever increasing tire marks. When you jump high enough, you can see the Kuala Lumpur skyline. Oh Kuala Lumpur, the land I was raised and miss ever so dearly.
Before entering the plane, the smell of the AV gas tickles my nose. I climb to the top of the plane, holding myself with the strut of the wing. I check the oil – if the smell didn’t tickle my nose, the oil didn’t need changing. I smelled brand new oil. I slowly begin to move my face away from the oil valve, and I smell a mixture of smells. I smell burned rubber and the smell of the city air – definitely the most overwhelming. The airport overlooked a highway, and I can just slightly smell gasoline and diesel from all of the cars. I get off the wing and open the door of the plane. From my experience, you could open the door and the stench of vomit, cigarettes or a brand new air freshener would overpower, or even all three. But luckily, we got the brand new air freshener – this will be one of the reasons our flight is pleasant.
All you hear are the sounds of the wind blowing loudly in your ear, the screech of the tires hitting the tarmac so suddenly and the firing of one of the other planes’ engines. If you stood close enough, you could hear the propeller slicing the space in front of you. With the light slam of the door and the click of the seatbelt, afterwards, you only hear absolute silence. My dad brings the dial of one of the buttons down; soon you hear the sound of the flaps on the wings. You hear them whirr and end with a subtle click back in its place. My dad yells out the window, “CLEAR A PROP”! With those 3 words, I knew it was time to start the engine. “Voom, voom, VOOM” the propeller goes, as it continues to spin endlessly until we decide it’s time to stop. As we yell to each other at the top of our lungs – just to communicate where we’re going – we soon realize that we need our headphones on. We begin to approach the end of the runway – the plane turns and stops. With the push of the throttle, slowly, the propeller increases speed and becomes louder…and louder. I begin to move one side of my headphones, but, just like a reflex, I move the earphone back to my ear – the sound was deafeningly overwhelming. The sound of the wind began to blaze into our microphones, being carried into our ears; time to close the windows.
Before we close the windows, I slowly stick my finger out. The air became thinner – it was heard but not felt.
“You have control”, my dad announces seriously.
“I have control”, I announce with conviction.
I finally get to fly the plane by myself. I slowly put my hands on the yoke. If I move it hard enough, I could send the plane upside down – sounds fun, but it wasn’t my idea of a good flight. I hold the yoke firmly and slowly move it to the right; I feel myself falling, but not in danger. As brave as can be, I push the throttle in and pull the yoke. With that, I am being absorbed into the seat by the power of the plane. I’m flying, and couldn’t feel freer. I wasn’t in middle school anymore; I was in the plane and one with the air. I let my father take control. A few minutes pass; the power and altitude of the plane decreases, along with the beat of my heart. “Screeeeech. Boing. Screeeeeeech”. The plane has landed and we’re taxiing back to the hangar. I’m no longer free; I’m no longer one with the air. I’m now back to my horrible, unnecessary life in middle school, only to look forward to doing this all over again next weekend.
This place is the place I have missed every single day of the week. I have driven on the highway several times next to that airport; all I have our memories that may take a long time to finally re-live. That next weekend never came, but I guess some good things have to come to an end. If I could do this all over again, I wouldn’t even think twice. I miss it all, especially the feel of being one with the air.
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