Up In A Plane!

Much has been made of recent security lapses surrounding the President of the United States and his family. The modern presidency is a luxurious cage, and anyone with the funding and the fortitude to get elected must willingly climb inside for their own safety. We expect that the people surrounding the President will anticipate every possible threat and will act with integrity to head off a calamity.

But it used to be different. Example: today is the anniversary of the day in 1910 when another great landmark in the history of Presidential security occurred – in what appears to be a “what the hell” moment of exuberance, sitting president Teddy Roosevelt decides to let some guy take him up in a plane.

Really. And there’s video.

Imagine any other President deciding to do this while in office. In an age where we weld down the manhole covers so the chief executive’s motorcade can pass over them unmolested, letting the POTUS go for a joyride in some relatively new piece of technology is unthinkable.

Theodore_Roosevelt_and_Archibald_Hoxsey_(1910)

Doing this cemented another milestone for T.R. – he became the first U.S. President to fly. And seeing him in the video as he climbs through the bracing wires between wings so he can settle, uncomfortably, into his seat, makes me wonder if he also became the first exasperated American air traveler to ask “Why is this so uncomfortable?”

Those deep, ground-challenging dips at the end of the flight are breathtaking even today. No aircraft should have its nose pointed ground ward at such a steep angle.

Within three months, Roosevelt’s pilot, Arch Hoxsey, would be dead.

In an air crash, of course.

What do you remember from your first airplane ride?

48 thoughts on “Up In A Plane!”

  1. My first air plane ride was an Aer Lingus flight from Bristol to Dublin. I was eleven years old at the time. I remember being disappointed that the air plane from the inside looked just like an big bus, and I recall thinking that it didn’t seem like we were moving very fast. Early on during the flight my ears popped, and it took days before my hearing returned to normal. I wasn’t impressed by the whole experience. I liked riding atop of the elephant and holding a boa constrictor in the Dublin zoo a lot better.

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  2. Good morning. My answer is I don’t remember my first trip in a plane. I do remember when my Dad started taking business trips by plane. I especially remember the car trips from our home town to the airport which was a fairly long distance up the highway from our town.

    On one trip back from the airport with my mother she thought a tire on the car was going flat. We checked the tires and they were fine. Some how the memory of that trip back from the airport stuck in my brain although I have no memory of the first time I took a trip on a plane.

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  3. I was shocked while watching the video to learn that inadequate passenger seating was a feature of airplanes in 1910. I thought that dated to the 1990s.

    When my sister and I were young our folks took us from Ames to Des Moines so we could fly with a friend of theirs. The plane was a small thing, something like a Piper Cub. Seating was limited, so we had to take turns going up in the sky. Mostly what I remember was the way the pilot hopped around clouds, flying at them and then pulling up to miss them. The world looked so strange and beautiful from up in the air.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Duluth to Chicago. Flight unmemorable. At Ohare we got a suburban cab, flat-rate cab to a suburb, and told him the hotel. He started ranting and raving about the hotel. It was right by the freeway, but there was no exit near it. He drove us through parking lots and up alleys. Huge hotel with hundreds of rooms. We went down for dinner. We were the only guests in a huge dining room. Next morning we and the hotel staff had breakfast in their cafe, during which the manager came in and told them all the hotel was closing in two weeks. Half the attendees came in an hour or more late because they could not figure out how to get to it. How does anyone spend millions and miss that crucial detail?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. in the 60’s the freeways impact were not familiar. if you were two blocks off the highway buy by the airport it was ok. once freeways plugged in it all changed. my wifes dad bought a house right on ohares landing approach. i asked him how he could pick that house and he said the landing strip opened three weeks after he bough the house. it just never occurred to him

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      1. I think you’re right, tim, it just didn’t occur to people how such things would impact their lives. In the early eighties, we helped a friend move into a house she had just bought in South Minneapolis. At the end of the day, we had a big potluck meal in her back yard. It wasn’t until then she realized that her house was located directly under the flight path for planes approaching and leaving the airport. It was so noisy that it was impossible to carry on a conversation outside for about an hour. The realtor had carefully shown her the house, several times, during times when no air traffic was evident, and our friend had never given it a thought. Her awareness was sure raised that Saturday afternoon.

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        1. My sister bought over by minnehaha falls after my warning about plane noise then realized it was every 30 seconds all day everyday. They soundproofed the house but it is still a backyard adjustment

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  5. l have no recollection of cloud jumping as a child. The first real flight for me was to Memphis with my wasband and two small kids. Unfortunately, my very first time just had to be in the worst air turbulence l would ever experience again. As the people around me began to vomit, row after row, it was my turn to use the bag. After this horrid introduction to flying, it’s amazing that l’d ever try it again.

    Unlike anyone l know, l could count on just two hands the number of times l’ve flown. Because it’s such a rare event for me, l still get as excited about the G force as a little kid. l really love it and even find airports exotic and fun. Of course, this pleasure is always connected to whomever or whatever exciting awaits me upon arrival. The only times l’ve been disappointed are when my seat mate has headphones on because having a 2-3 hour conversation make the air time fly by.

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    1. About 1962 I flew to NY city to participate in a United Nations educational mock convention. To save money, I flew on an airplane that was actually stuffed with mail bags. It used to be possible to fly cheaply on those flights. They had two or four little seats (unpadded) that could accommodate a person.

      At about the same time I flew with my dad from Iowa to Minneapolis and back. One of those flights was on the popular workhorse passenger plane of the time: the DC-3. It sat on the tarmac at an angle, with its tail much lower than the cabin, so when you took you seat you were pointed up toward the sky. The DC-3 was a twin prop plane. It was the plane that made commercial flying popular, and I guess it still flies in some countries.

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  6. I was in Grade 11 and was in Mexico attending a month long Spanish immersion school. We had driven down to the school with a teacher from Minnesota and we were to take a bus back home. By the end of the month I and a fellow student just couldn’t see ourselves tolerating a bus ride so my companion’s mom arranged for a flight home. I remember being relieved and excited. I loved taking off and landing.

    TR always said he would never had become president had he not spent time as a rancher in ND. You will notice he left the state and became wildly successful. I don’t think he came back much to visit in his later life.

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  7. Summer after freshman year at ISU (Ames), my roommate invited me up for a weekend visit to her home, Edina. My folks said YES! I was 19, felt so grown up, and sat next to a businessman who asked if it was my first flight. Like CB, I remember loving the G-force at take-off, still like those and landings. I’m sure we were in the air all of 40 minutes. Wish I could remember whether I dressed up or wore jeans…

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    1. I’m betting you dressed up, BiR. People tended to in those days when they were traveling. Another innovation that I remember encountering for the first time is an escalator. The Danish word for escalator is “rullende trappe,” rolling chairs, and I was in high school by the time the first one was installed in a Danish department store near where we lived. I remember having a hard time envisioning what it would look like and how it worked, so I rode my bike to Lyngby to check this newfangled thing out. I went up and down a couple of times, and then rode my bike back home again without buying anything, for, of course, I had no money.

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    2. they have a flight from ames to minneapolis? by the time you go to the airport get in line fly to our airport and get a ride to the destination aftern the luggage shows up you have spent the same 2 1/2 hours you would have if you drove but you are without a car. i feel that way about chicago today

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  8. 9 years old on a flight from Duluth to Florida. I remember my mother being very concerned that I’d get airsick. Which happened to another youthful traveler across the aisle from me. Otherwise, I only remember that I was pleasantly not scared of flying, did not get airsick, and getting off the plane and being in a different world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. love that story about the guy putting dinty moore beef stew in the vomit bag and making the stewardess sick by faking that he was getting throwing up then saying it looked pretty good and eating it with his plastic silverware.

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    1. saw john denver sing that when he was the warm up band for blood sweat and tears. a short while later peter paul and mary made john denver famous. i used to love playing this song in my repertoire

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  9. i was 6 or 7 and my uncle up in campbell mn out in farmland america had a little plane. one summer day he took us up in the little plane 2 or 3 at a time. 15 minute ride to go up look at farms fly over town and point at the top of the house and land to ge tthe next group. i think i got to go twice because i was so unimpressed with the first trip. i wasnt too impressed with the second one either.
    didnt feel fast or high or much different than looking out a car window. the lack of coolness kind of bugged me. i wanted to be impressed and it just wasnt happenin

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    1. Below us in the valley on the farm where I grew up a local man built a small airport. He and a couple friends bought and maintained little Piper Cub sort of airplanes as a hobby. None of them had a pilot’s license. They flew over us all the time, cloud-hopping a la HVS. It was always fun to watch, never a nuisance. As a bored teen driving a tractor in ever-tightening circles in the fields, it was a bit of a boredom reliever. But I never wanted to be up there.

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      1. I have always wanted to be up there
        I had tickets to john Denver 2 weeks after his plane exploded over Denver
        My daughter asked why he would fly an experimental aircraft and I asked why not?
        I guess there are different trains of thought
        Mine is right for me

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  10. My first flight was to Arizona to visit cousins – my uncle was in graduate school there for a couple years, I think we visited once while they were there. I don’t recall the flight itself, but I remember getting a “junior flight attendant” pin (metal, with a real pokey pin) and being a bit miffed that i got that one and not a “junior pilot” pin like my brother. I was probably 5 or 6 at the time. And we did “dress” for the flight – I had a double knit skirt suit and white tights on for the flight (that I remember only because there is photographic evidence).

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      1. Indeed – I think the pin was “junior stewardess” which is that much more annoying. Why couldn’t I be a junior pilot? I was part of the Free to Be You and Me generation…why didn’t I get the choice? (For the record, on Miss S’s first flight at the age of 2 1/2, she got a sticker with wings – no “junior” anything…better than “junior stewardess” but still – a sticker?)

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I remember that I was late for that first flight, late enough that I was the least person to board. So I was pretty frazzled. A Washington DC colleague that I spoke with on the phone regularly, but had never met in person, was going to the same conference on the same flight. She had sent me a T-shirt in advance so she’d be able to spot me. We waved as I went down the aisle.

    I had a window seat and a little time to settle in and catch my breath before we took off. It was strange to watch the ground receding, but it was such a tiny little window that it didn’t seem very real to me. I was like I was watching a TV screen.

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  12. Flight from Charlotte to Pittsburgh: bright blue fall day. 15,000 feet. We flew over the mountains (Alleganies, Appalachains, what else?). Valley green green. Ridge tops purple, red, magenta, rust. Like one long golf course. Got to Pittsburgh, canceled plane, 12 hour delay with Sandy in the Cities to pick me up, down from TH

    Clear shy flight over Western Tennessee and all those rivers running beside each other. Like a map. Love maps.

    Red eye from Mpls to Anchorage in June. Took off in dark, but when we reached 30,000 feet the sun sat on the horizon for hours and then slow rose above us. Layers of cloud below the sun. Purples,pinks, violets.

    The flights along the upper coastline of Alaska in June (same trip as above) in a four seater. Amazing. The military is squirrel in all along the coast. Later in trip, in 15 seater, same mad Russian pilot (mad in a good way). Before the fueled everyone had to shout out their weight. Would you lie or be honest? Remember the consequences.
    Later in same plane with only four people, Mad Russian flew me over a pack of 6-8 polar bears sleeping on the beach. Once at 600 feet. Once at 200 feet. I forgot to be afraid of heights, it was so arresting to see those little “kittens” down their all balled up in one bunch.

    Several flights in small plane from Albequerque to Carlsbad and back again. Always clear. Landed at three other airports along the way, a desert hopper. I love southern New Mexico. Shapes and form of the desert and the mountains are lunar.

    Landing in San Diego almost between the office buildings (just seems that low. Then later taking off over the ocean. Same in LA. Over the Grand Canyon twice in clear skies.

    coming in from the east over Eau Clair area, north of both downtowns, turning around downtown Mpls, then causing all those noise issues.

    Once coming into Mpls at night we were circling with several other planes because of ice on the runways. Pilot said they were going to let us land because happened to be the plane perfectly in line. Hit ground Every time they tried to brake the plane skidded. finally he basically slammed on the brakes. We went to the very end of the runway. Very end. I was last out of plane. Pilot came out of the cockpit with me, white in the face. He said that he was going to go have a talk with the controllers. No other planes landed.

    Landing in Pittsburgh from the east: you are high above the Ohio River as they drop the landing gear, and you wonder what? Suddenly you hit the ground. The airport sits high on a leveled plateau.

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  13. Prior to going to DC on an Honor flight a couple of years ago, my Dad’ s previous flight was in a bomber over Germany and France. He said he was really anxious on the flight to DC with all his memories from when he was a waist gunner.

    I am in the Denver airport right now having de- planed from a 787 dream liner out of Houston. My plane back to ND will be somewhat smaller.

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  14. Hey–
    I remember flying to DC in 1974 to visit my oldest sister. I was 10 and I got to go up to the cockpit and sit in the co-pilot seat and Mom took a picture of me.
    I also remember a neighbor who flew all the 4H kids in his little Cessna.
    And when I was 18 I took a ‘discovery flight’ in a Cessna; sat in the pilot seat and read the check list to the real pilot and he got us up and then let me fly for a few minutes and then back to the airport where he landed us.
    Even in 2000 flying to Phoenix our son who was 6 got to sit in the cockpit.
    It all seemed like more fun then.

    I jumped out of a plane this summer. That was something all right.
    Man, it’s windy when the door opens!

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    1. Man, oh man, I can’t imagine working up the courage to jump out of a plane. Given the chance, Ben, would you do it again? And how the heck did you rate that you were allowed to visit the cockpit?

      I have never flown in a really small plane like the Cessna, but I can imagine that’s a whole lot more fun than being herded into a 747 along with six hundred other passengers. The smallest aircraft I’ve ever been in, and the most fun, was a Grønlandsfly helicopter.

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      1. I did a helicopter tour of Gettysburg Battle grounds. You couldn’t hear anything the pilot said but the ride was cool! One of those sort of ‘MASH’ helicopters.

        Yes, parachuting was fun. I’d do it again in a second. Especially now that I know what to expect. It was only really exciting for those first few seconds. Then the float back down almost got boring. Took 5 minutes. Next time, free fall longer, float less. Haha–

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  15. I know I wasn’t online over the weekend, but I’m going to add on here anyway. When I was in the 8th grade, my favmily took a long vacation in the station wagon across the Rockies, to California and back up to Missouri through Arizona, New Mexico, etc. When we go to the Grand Canyon, my father happened upon some information about flying in the Grand Canyon. All four of us piled into a small Piper Cub and sailed off; I can still remember as we flew over the edge of the canyon and my stomach just about jumped out the window. It was an amazing flight, but I didn’t even think about the fact that it was the first time I was in a plane until after the vacation when I was describing it to a friend.

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  16. Scared sh**less. I was a little kid. Grandpa took three of us up with a pilot in a small plane, Cessna something, I suppose. The pilot and Grandpa thought it would be fun to do some “tricks.” Nothing serious like a barrel roll, but a few short steep ups and downs like you’d experience on a roller coaster. The adults laughed, the kids panicked.

    But I don’t mind the flying part of flying. Just the crowding, discomfort, annoying passengers, and totally demeaning and ludicrous airport “security”. One of the biggest con jobs ever perpetrated on the American people.

    Chris in Owatona

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