on island we rarely heard airplanes overhead. if we did, they were small cessnas and pipers, low-wing and high-wing single engine airplanes, buzzing over the shoreline heading for the small grass strip airport. otherwise, it was quiet. very.
lately, here, we have noticed that it is quieter than normal. we are in what is generally an approach for the milwaukee airport and we often see airplanes overhead heading north or airplanes coming across the lake in line for o’hare, south of us. it seems more of a rarity now to hear a jet overhead. it makes us pay attention. it makes us look up. it makes us ponder.
we wonder where it is coming from, where its final destination. we wonder how many passengers are on board. in these times of no-travel, the contrail seems a contradiction of this time, a plane leaving its mark on the day.
in my previous life i had some time at the controls of both small airplanes and helicopters. the jargon was language i was accustomed to. there are languages of career. we all have them, words, expressions, theories specific to our chosen work; we learn our spouse’s language, even just enough to understand just enough.
i’m better at the controls than in the passenger seat of a small airplane; motion sickness rules less if you are ‘driving’. i never got near the point of solo-ing on any flying machine. there was much to learn in ground school and hours rented on an airplane or a helicopter were expensive for an already-stretched budget. but, stick in hand, flying a helicopter over the woods of new hampshire while employed at an aviation college there, brilliant new england fall colors beneath us, i could see how the flying-bug could bite.
and now it is quiet. a few moments ago, while writing this, a jet flew overhead. i stopped typing to pay attention and looked out the window. i wondered: where is that plane going? who is on that plane? do they feel safe? are they wearing masks? did they turn their blower off? are they sitting six feet apart?
and i pondered: what state might that plane be flying here from? what are the covid-19-numbers in that state? are people staying safe-at-home? are there protests in that state, people who are placing everyone in their ever-widening concentric circles at risk for contagion? are there people who are laissez-faire-individualizing this global-everyone-is-affected-pandemic, rejecting commonsense social distancing and simple respectful preventative measures? are there people making homemade masks, like here, because there isn’t enough PPE to go around? are they wondering why the federal government of fifty states and five territories is hostage-taking necessary supplies, pitting governors against each other, encouraging a competition for lifesaving devices, blaspheming good works, eliminating knowledgeable workers, warping what is important vs not important, encouraging bracing and dangerous practices? are they shocked and dismayed at the ever-widening inequity, the gross partisanship? are they stunned into disbelief at the absolute lack of sane and measured leadership? are they embarrassed and profoundly saddened?
and i wondered: when will we go on an airplane next? where will we go? when will we feel safe? will everyone wear a mask? will everyone sit six feet apart?
and i thought, as we are apt to do after-the-fact: i should have gotten my pilot’s license.