A non-stop commercial flight from Kingston’s Norman Manley International airport (MKJP) to New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport (KJFK) is approximately 3 hours. It took 2 minutes to be seated and be strapped in; 15 minutes to complete passenger boarding and 5 minutes to taxi to the active runway before experiencing what can only be described as The Rush!
Having never before experienced a take-off, the event turned out to be another defining moment in my decision to pursue my dream of flying aircraft. What would cause some to grip their arm rests with white-knuckled tension, provided for me an excuse to release even more endorphins; entities I had no idea existed in me at the time.
Contrary to popular and misguided belief, testosterone levels in 11 year olds are not dormant; and should never be dismissed out of hand. The RPM evolution of sound and the increase of jet engine thrust that defied gravity’s intrinsic hold, immediately pushed me back into my seat; shoved me past pre-adolescence and catapulted me into post-puberty in the span of time it took the jet to complete its take off run and depart the runway. Unbeknownst to me at the time, watching the ground drop away as we gained altitude, would prove to be a unique and captivating experience every time in the future. It was and is something that I cannot seem to get enough of.
Something else that was not readily apparent to me at the time, was my ability to disprove established scientific and anthropological theories. The argument being that those of Afro-Centric origin are equipped with broad flat noses with large nasal cavities in order to better accommodate the higher ambient temperatures of their respective geographic locales; usually equatorial. The argument can also be made that the application of constant pressure of the nose against tempered plexiglass at 35000 feet for over 3 hours, also promotes the same physiological disposition, regardless of your Melanin quotient.
While my very first take-off and initial climb-out fast tracked my transition through puberty, the equally fascinating flight regime of approach and landing, allowed for fidgeting on an order of magnitude that may have caused concern by my parents, had it not been for the convenient restraint of the seat belt.
Since my window seat provided an unrestricted view of the left wing, from initial descent to final approach, I had full view of the hydro-mechanical metamorphosis involved in transitioning a 100 ton aircraft flying at just under the speed of sound, to one skimming along at 160 knots just prior to touchdown.
The wing, an appendage that was sleek and smooth at altitude, now suffered from an identity crisis. It now sprouted flaps, panels, screw-jacks, hinges and servos, all working in concert to provide high lift at low speed. Not realizing the best was yet to come, at the moment of touchdown and just prior to the cacophony of reverse thrusters and g-force induced braking, the wing seemed to literally come apart. It fulfilled its final role of the flight, by killing all lift as quickly as possible, when the spoilers automatically were raised as the wheels touched the ground.
To this day, I marvel at the technology that has enabled us to venture forth into realms that not too long ago were considered impossible to conquer. The human mind continually seeks to build more complex constructs in an effort to subdue the elements of time and the various modes of travel. Yes, some have even proposed time-travel as the next frontier. Who knows what new breakthrough of the mind will lend itself to the improbable.