Watching Airplanes

My dad told me the story of when he flew on a Boeing 747. He was young and going to visit an ill family member on a redeye, cross-country flight*. He saw the double-decker king, and he was in awe. He knew that he would remember this flight forever. What he did not know is how this story would impact his future daughter, forty+ years later.

I quickly became passionately amazed by airplanes. I kept FlightAware maps in different windows up on my computer at all times, listening to live air traffic control from busy airports in the background, amazed by how strategically airplanes traversed the sky. My dad would drive me out to the airport where we would watch planes take off and land in a rhythmic fashion. The busier the airport, the more amazed I was.

Tracking and watching airplanes quickly became my favorite pastime. Hours feel like mere seconds watching the harmonious dances through the sky. I would imagine the stories of the passengers flying above me. When flying myself, I would imagine the stories of the people living beneath me. The simultaneous unity and separation between land and sky is mind blowing.

Whenever I am stressed, overwhelmed, or otherwise negatively impacted, I sit down and invest myself in airplanes. This gets my mind off of everything. The older I get, the more I appreciate them. My dad and I have made some of the most amazing memories through this, watching documentaries together, listening to the sometimes humorous air traffic control streams, bonding over the creative stories we imagine of the planes.

I’m grateful for that trip my dad took on a 747 that ignited his inspired spirit he has shared with me. Flying on an A380 or 747 is at the very top of my bucket list. One day, I dream of working in a field that is somehow related to aviation as my passion is the united front between airplanes and stories. They are more related than one may think.

Our world is begging to be explored . . .

A ride on an airplane is a good way to put everything into perspective. Though it’s so small from here, below is a photo of many people’s entire world. All of their problems, all of their fears, all of their anxieties. All of their successes, all of their hopes, all of their accomplishments. Thousands of people frantically living their chaotic lives. Some experiencing pure happiness for the first time, some experiencing the heartbreaking pains of loss for what they only hope is the last. So many uniquely beautiful stories being lived in this vast world we call “home,” all happening at once.

Flying is a humbling experience as we can truly see how little we are compared to all that surrounds us. Notice how amazing creation is and truly take the time to appreciate it. Appreciate the skyrocketing mountains, the seemingly infinite ocean boundaries. Appreciate the open land where no one dwells, the cities where so much happens at once.

Lastly, appreciate the people sharing the experience of flying together. An airport is a place where people congregate for the same reason yet for many different reasons. People do not travel just for the heck of it. They travel because they have a unique motivation. Perhaps for work, perhaps to see family. A big job promotion on the rise, a tragic loss of a loved one. Meeting family, seeing old friends. Getting away from the old, experiencing the new. Returning to roots, spreading wings to fly. Chasing a dream, forfeiting lost hope. Everyone on an airplane, everyone at an airport, is there for a unique reason with their own beautiful story. They are not there for the sake of being there.

For these reasons and more, I completely and absolutely love the magic of aviation. We are really tiny in this vast world that is calling us to explore, to make it better. We all have stories that bring us to where we are. I think I love air travel so much because I am fascinated by stories. I care deeply for the well-being of those around me, and I cherish all stories I am told. Your story is special, valuable, and the reason you are here today. Next time you are in an airplane, I hope you look out your window and realize you are never truly alone. Our world is too magnificent for that.**


*It is becoming increasingly rare for commercial double-decker aircraft (Boeing 747, Airbus A380) to be used for domestic flights.

**This was written in December 2015 when I was flying to San Diego. I was most amazed by seeing the where the land ends and ocean begins, realizing my land and sky separated unity duo is really a trio.

One thought on “Watching Airplanes

  1. OMG. I could read your writings all day!!! That was amazing Danielle. YOU are amazing! Maybe you’re meant to be an author! Do you know I have only ever completed reading ONE book my entire life? Sad, right? You’re writing is never boring. You have a way of pulling me in and falling in love with your words. You are such an inspiring young woman of MANY talents. I love you so much!!! So proud of you.


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