People love flying. We watch birds, fly kites, marvel at the bravery of the parachute jumper and hang glider, tourist travel into outer space and spend over $20 billion per year at amusement parks world wide. Instinctively we are drawn to the world above us and the skies have held a special significance in all times and cultures. Flying themes are reflected in every culture’s expression of religion, science and art. It’s easy to imagine that even our most remote human ancestors were curious about the world above us and longed to soar with the birds.
Historians could write volumes recounting funny, interesting and scientifically significant attempts at flight. History continues to be made every day. For all of our technology, we have not become jaded; flying around the world is routine, but we are still impressed by the power and science of flight. We have landed on the moon. Remarkably, most of us are still overwhelmed by the possibility of gliding over the trees in a hot air balloon. Simple or sophisticated, we will always desire to rise above our earthly stressors. It is a natural human longing.
The Chinese and Japanese developed kites for all kinds of practical purposes. In 1783, the Mountgolfier brothers flew the first hot air balloon– kept aloft by burning old shoes and wet wool. Later that year, a rooster, a duck and a sheep became the first hot air balloon passengers and flew for King Louis XVI. Within 15 years, an extreme athlete named Garnerin became the first parachute jumper as he fell successfully 2000 feet down out of a balloon. Mechanical and aeronautic advancements were made over the next century that culminated in the Wright Brother’s flying invention in 1903.
We are fortunate to live in a time when flying is so commonplace and accessible. It is no longer the domain of the dreamers and thrill-seekers. Every one of us can experience the exhilaration of flight, either as a practical means of transportation or a special getaway. We need to make an effort to indulge this longing to fly!
7 Reasons Why We Love the Skies:
- It’s liberating. There is something freeing about losing the grip of the earth and loosening the pull of our problems. One could use gravity clichés all day and still not adequately express the liberation of flying. It is something that has to be experienced to be believed.
- It pushes our limits. Figuratively and literally we journey to new heights. Perhaps we will visit something we have always wanted to see or maybe it challenges us personally, but it will require us to experience something new.
- It is peaceful. Somehow, even in a crowded airplane, with screaming babies and an annoying seatmate, if you look out the window and watch the sky, you will experience a profound stillness and a sense that we can always get away from the chaos of the world.
- It’s an adrenaline rush! Interestingly, the lighter the aircraft, the closer you are to the feeling of ‘real flying‘ as birds might experience it. Floating in the wind is soothing and yet powerful in a way that is difficult to match. The coolest part is that most flying experiences don’t entail the gut-wrenching falling sensation that one might get on a roller coaster because you are not actually accelerating as you fall. All the thrill- none of the anxiety!
- It’s a new perspective- physically. You see your world in a whole new way. Dismayed by the ugly shopping centre round the corner? If you rise above it, you might find that in the bigger scheme of things, it’s not so bad. Conversely, you might see development, that heretofore you believed was a sign of ‘progress’, as a scar on the beautiful countryside. Either way, you are assured a view of the world you don’t normally have.
- There’s no mobile phone reception! The higher you fly, the more havoc you wreak on cell towers as your call communicates with more than one… sometimes hundreds simultaneously. If for some reason, someone wanted to bug you while on a private tour- they couldn’t! Every now and then, it’s nice to be left in peace.
- It’s fun and affordable. Commercial flying has never been cheaper and alternative flying experiences such as hot air ballooning, helicopter rides or pleasure flights can be an unusual gift or treat to oneself at a reasonable cost. It might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience or the beginning of a new obsession, but it is definitely an experience that won’t be forgotten.