By John House
cra•zy | / ‘krā-zē/ : not mentally sound : marked by thought or action that lacks reason :
So says Messrs. Merriam and Mister Webster. My family thinks I’m the poster child for crazy. As proof, they present me, at the sound of an airplane overflying my home, leaping from my chair and racing outside to see the aerial intruder. I play a game with myself whose name loosely translates to, “I can name that airplane in three shakes of a lamb’s tail.” I’m not as good at the game as I once was but still manage to score in the 70th percentile. I love airplane noise!
I’ve been asked many times if I’ve always loved flying. Generally, I reply with something to the effect ”forever and always.” What’s closer to the truth is, I hated it. I would get airsick every time I went flying. I didn’t like turbulence, G’s or even the smell of an airplane. To me anyway, airplane smell was a combination of fuel, oil, sweat, and Hai Karate after-shave.
I’d poke my nose in an airplane and my mouth would sour almost immediately. My mother would hand me a stick of Juicy Fruit gum to help settle my stomach, but it never worked. The smell of Juicy Fruit turns my stomach to this day.
My airsickness got to the point where the airplane didn’t even have to leave the ground. I clearly remember opening the door of our 172 while it was still in the closed hangar and felt the urge to start “selling Buicks.” Don’t know what that means? In a low, guttural voice, say Buick real slow. You’ll know then.
So how did I get over my penchant for airsickness?
In 1965 my dad loaded the whole family (dad, mom, my brother, two sisters and me) into a 1960 Cessna 210 and we flew to New Jersey; from Fair Oaks!Our first stop was Salt Lake City and I’m quite sure I retched the entire leg. That’s when I learned when you run out of air-sick bags, you must improvise. I had to pull my shirt collar up over mouth and let loose into my shirt. It does a yeoman’s job of containing the mess but sadly not the smell. A word of advice. Make sure to tuck-in at least the front of your shirt. These days, it’s a fashion trend called a French Tuck.
The shame I felt getting out of the airplane wearing that soggy shirt left an enduring memory. A man at the FBO that offered assistance smiled at me and said, “Don’t be hard on yourself. It happens to the best of us.” You get airsick too? “I used to, but I got over it. You will too. Just tell yourself you’re riding the Matterhorn at Disneyland.”
It worked! That was the last time I ever felt sick in an airplane.
Some of you may have caught the fact the trip was made in a 1960 Cessna 210; an aircraft with seating for only four people. Yep. That will be left for another story.