Oh, to be airborne again!



By Caitlin Kelly

As some here know, I live to travel — 41 countries so far and so many more I’m so eager to visit:  Iceland, Finland, Morocco, Japan, maybe back to New Zealand and definitely back to Scotland, Ireland, England and France.

That also means hours airborne and I have bizarrely mixed emotions about flying:


I love flying, in theory, but loathe wide-body aircraft and being jammed into one with 300+ other people. I know that smaller aircraft, especially the very smallest, can be more dangerous and bumpy. I just hate being surrounded by so many people 35,000 feet in the air for hours.

I can’t wait to go somewhere far away!

Ohhhhh, I hate turbulence.

And now, the notion of. 6,8, 9 hours wearing a mask?


So, in the meantime, I’m watching every possible film and TV show set far from the United States, like Baptiste (Amsterdam), Happy Valley, Broadchurch, Shetland, Hinterland (England, Scotland, Wales), Wallander (Sweden, UK) and many others.

Jose and I are total #avgeeks, and on our Facebook and Instagram feeds watch JustPlanes.com— with the coolest aviation videos of planes taking off and landing all over the world, mostly from the cockpit!

I once had the most amazing experience — as an adult! — flying home into LaGuardia airport in New York from Toronto on Air Canada. The flight path goes down the Hudson River then turns east then south again to land.

The flight attendant, seeing me peer excitedly out the window as we got closer and closer to the airport — pre 9/11 and prohibited cockpit visits — asked if I’d like to see the landing from inside the cockpit.

Are you kidding!?

What a fantastic thrill!

I’ve had a few aviation adventures over the years:


Our flight from Managua to Bilwi, Nicaragua



The domestic Nicaraguan airline whose aircraft was so tiny they weighed our baggage — and us!

Or the Russian-built aircraft I flew in in Venezuela, with all its interior markings in Cyrillic.

The flight from Valetta to Tunis, in a smallish aircraft and some turbulence, with all communications in Arabic only.

Or the BOAC flight I took on Christmas Eve as a child to London — with holiday decorations hanging from the ceiling across the single aisle.

Flying as a courier (no ticket!) to Stockholm, Caracas, London and Bangkok.

Or the flight to Scotland, age 12, for a summer staying with a friend — smuggling my hamster Pickles underneath my coat in his custom-designed cage made by a friend’s father.

And the Faucett Air flight into Cuzco, Peru, a small landing strip surrounded by mountains and one with low cloud cover. That was a white-knuckler.

And the tiny plane that flew me and a Gazette photographer and a CBC reporter and a cameraman — and hundreds of boxes of donated clothing — from Kuujjuaq to Salluit, Quebec, flying north for hours about the treeline, with nothing but ice and snow to see and eventually land on.


Our aircraft from Managua to Bilwi — and back!


One of my favorite books, ever, is one written by a former 747 British Airways pilot Mark vanHoenacker, (still flying for them, but not that aircraft), Skyfaring. It is the most lyrical and lovely book about how the world appears from the air, and the cockpit.

I admit to being a total fangirl, in awe of all pilots and their skills.

Jose knows, if he’s meeting me at the airport arriving, I’m often last out because I’ve had a quick chat with the pilots, if possible.


Do you have a favorite airline?

Type of aircraft?

Or a great aviation tale to share?

8 thoughts on “Oh, to be airborne again!

  1. Hahaha. 😉 I don’t have one favourite. All of them? Maybe the Piper that I flew while living in Phoenix – lots of fun. Or the first airplane I flew – a old Cessna 172. But otherwise, my favourite is probably the Cessna Citation M2 which is a small single-pilot jet.

    I’m looking forward to travelling again (for holidays) after this miserable covid is over.

  2. i actually love to fly, though like you, i’m not a fan of being sandwiched in the middle of a mass of humanity. i love how you had the chance to see the view from a cockpit, and the myriad flight experiences you’ve had. one of my grandsons who is 8, has been taken by everything aviation since he was a toddler. he was born in australia and when i visited we would often park by his local airport to watch the planes takeoff and land. now that they live here, we go to our large airport to do the same thing, though access is much more limited. last summer when there, we met a delta pilot, who kindly talked to him and answered questions. he’s in a junior pilot program here and has been a passenger in a very small plane and helicopter, just him and the pilot. when he’s old enough, he’d like to get his pilot’s license. when you speak of being an avi geek, i had to laugh as i watched/listened to take off and landing videos this year, in order to catch the sounds for a song i was writing for a 3rd grade school play. didn’t know these videos existed before….

  3. I used to LOVE flying as a kid..but it was different back then. It felt like your vacation started at the airport and yes, we had to wear nice clothes! KLM was a fav as was Lufthansa…and I loved Eastern before it went down. (poor choice of words, but you know what I mean) TWA..PAN AM..jumbos of course..those were the days.

    1. We were watching the film (which is terrific if you love sports cars and car design as much as I do!), Ford versus Ferrari — in a few scenes, a TWA livery and a Pan Am one…

      I remember flying Eastern and Canadian Pacific other now-gone airlines…

      I have not yet flown Lufthansa or KLM but would like to. Have really enjoyed Aer Lingus, Air France and British Airways.

      Hope to try out Finnair, which Monocle gave nice reviews to.

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