Whining About Air Travel
At the end of this story is a photograph of my father as a very young boy at the controls of an early Curtiss flier, as well as a hyperlink to his Curtiss biography, which has just been republished.
On the morning of May 20, 1927, my father woke up and looked out the window of his house on Long Island. He had planned to drive over to Roosevelt Field to watch Charles Lindbergh take off on his highly dangerous attempt to fly solo to Paris, but the weather was foggy and rainy, and my father assumed the flight would be scrubbed. He rolled over and went back to sleep. He regretted that decision all his life.
Our house on Long Island was one mile from the main touchdown point at Idlewild-cum-Kennedy Airport. When we were in the pattern, every two minutes a giant Jet plane would come screaming overhead at 800 feet, so loud that all conversation had to be suspended. My father loved it. “I can leave my house and be anywhere in Washington, D.C., in two hours,” he would crow with delight. “That’s progress!”
One of his favorite quotes was from Rudyard Kipling, who wrote, “but someday—even on the Equator—we shall hold the Sun level in his full stride.”
One of my regrets is that he never flew in the supersonic Concorde, a plane that fulfilled Kipling’s prediction. He would have adored it. But $10,000 for one way to London was out of his league.
For a guy who loved flight, he lived to see it all—from the Wright brothers and Curtiss to men walking on the moon and everything in between. He had a great run for his money.
We are Spoiled
If you think flying is rough today, consider a coast-to-coast trip in the 1920s.