The Wright brothers invited people to the field where they said their machine would fly, trundled it out and announced the departure would be delayed due to mechanical problems. And so it begins….

Glenn Curtiss on his V-8 Motorcycle on Ormond Beach Florida 1907

How much fun was your last plane flight? Was it smooth and easy or rough and queasy? How did all the problems that we experience start when negotiating air travel? It goes back to Glenn Curtiss and the Wright brothers. Flight was risky for sure. Getting up was easier than coming down. The aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss was a daredevil for speed having won bicycle races and setting land speed records on a custom bike with an 8-cylinder engine (And no brakes). Curtiss took the motorcycle to the Florida Speed Carnival at Ormond Beach in January 1907. He recorded a record-setting speed of 136 mph during his run and earning the title of “the fastest man on Earth”. Usain Bolt ran just as fast and it looked like he got off the ground too.

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The processes that enable us to fly as a passenger became engrained in the procedures used in those pioneer days, so let’s go back in time and listen in on a phone conversation between ‘Bob’ who worked in the Wright brothers bicycle shop, when he took the very first airline reservation.

(Phone ring) “Good morning, Wright brothers bicycle shop and airline, this is Bob, may I help you? Yes, this is where ‘The machine will fly’ later this week if the bicycle mechanics union comes to terms with the new technology and the wind dies down. So what can I do for you sir? You want to make a what? No sir, I believe reservations are for restaurants. Oh, you want to fly on the machine?

Original Wright Flyer as displayed at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC
Original Wright Flyer as displayed at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC

We’ve never done this before so there are some guidelines we need to set up. Are you a big person? The reason I ask is that the plane weighs about 550 pounds and quite honestly, Orville’s been putting on weight lately so…Oh, you only need 2 square feet of space? Good! That’s all we can manage now and for the foreseeable future.

The Wright brothers inspiring a new generation.
The Wright brothers inspiring a new generation.

Now about the seating…..you wanted a ‘window seat’. Sorry to disappoint you but at this point, we don’t have windows. You’ll have to sit behind either Wilbur or Orville. No, neither has a pilot’s license yet, but they hope you won’t mind. The first license was issued to Glenn Curtiss. We’re just flying over a field so there’s no real destination and no food on this flight, but Orville could share his lunch and you will receive frequent flyer feet! That’s right, the contraption can’t go airborne for a whole mile, so we broke it down. Frequent flyer feet. It’s how we thank you for flying if you come back alive. If you plan to fly a lot with us, FFF is a great incentive program and we’ll use it to reward our bravest passengers.

1st Flight by Orville Wright on Dec 17, 1903
1st Flight by Orville Wright on Dec 17, 1903

Here’s the bad news, we don’t know if it will get off the ground at all, that’s why we offer a full liquor service. Orville carries a flask and he’ll share when necessary. You’ll have to hold the wheel while he pours and don’t worry about the noise and the smoke, you’ll be sitting behind the engine, and that’s good news because you won’t hear any screaming children, the engine noise will drown them out.

By the way, you would be interested to hear that we’ve been given a top rating by this new company JD Power and Associates. They said there was No one like us. You’ll also be able to join our rewards program and convert your miles flown into valuable offerings like upgrades to first class with a complimentary long red scarf and woolen mittens in the winter.

If you purchase a ticket and can’t use it, we’ll send you on the next flight whenever that is and wherever it goes. It’s all about the thrill of flight and if you can still breathe after inhaling the carbon monoxide, you’ll be all set. Like I said, no windows, all open. Good luck!

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