The butterflies in my stomach as the wheels leave the ground, the soothing hum of the engine and the rush of flying through a cloud — these are my favorite sensations.
For every year of my life, I have a picture of myself with a plane: from sitting on my father’s lap in the cockpit as a baby to leaving home for college, suitcase in hand.
When I was younger, my dad would take me on adventures. I loved sitting next to him and pretending to be his co-pilot. I was too small to see out the window, so he would stack old phone books for me to sit on.
Before take off, he would shout, “Clear prop!” I’d make sure no one was near the engine and respond: “Clear prop!” With a loud rev, the engine would start and the adventure began.
Looking down at the world from 7,000 feet is magical. It looks like a play set. There are Hot Wheels driving on the interstate and neighborhoods made of Lego houses. Cities are small, and people are invisible. The ocean is a large blue blanket covering the Earth.
More magical than the world is the sky.
I used to imagine the clouds were cotton candy. “Can we please fly in them?” I would plead. With a slight smile, my dad would push the yoke down. My stomach would flutter as the plane descended. Suddenly, the world would disappear and everything would turn white.
One day, while flying past a large cloud, I asked, “Can I touch it?”
“You want to touch a cloud?” My dad gave me a quizzical look. “I don’t know. Let’s try!”
My dad turned the plane slightly to the left and angled the wing down. He opened the small pilot window. “Come sit on my lap.”
I crawled across the landing gear. “Slowly put your hand out.” The air was cold and the cloud was damp.
“It feels funny!”
My dad laughed and brought the plane back to altitude. I was about to crawl back to my seat when he said, “Do you want to fly?”
My mouth fell open: “Uhh, yeah!” Sitting on his lap I held onto the yoke and guided the plane. Most dads teach their kids to drive — my dad taught me to fly.
My dad is still a pilot. He flies me to and from school on breaks, and I am the co-pilot. I help with the GPS and searching for air traffic. Sometimes I even get to fly.
I’m now tall enough to see out the window on my own, but the world still seems so small from 7,000 feet.
When I look up at the sky, I think about the damp feeling on my hand and the special sensation of being a part of something so beautiful. Most of all, I think of my dad and the adventures he taught me to love.
I believe in the cotton candy clouds and Lego buildings.
I believe in flying.