Leaving Paris for New York is like leaving the planet knowing you may never come back.
Well… you might come back. But you won’t be the same when you do!
New York is kind of like that. But that’s another story.
It was Friday afternoon.
The aircraft flew out of Paris heading due west.
For 3 hours we flew over water. The Atlantic. I looked out the window and wondered about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. We were miles from anywhere… somewhere half way in between… and it was magical.
There is something entrancing about all that water… all that space… all that nothingness.
Then… half an hour later we made landfall. Most of the passengers were asleep. I looked around for signs of life but there were none.
I had done my calculations earlier and decided that if we were travelling Paris to New York there would be approximately 5 – 6 hours of travelling over water. We had only travelled just over 3.
So what was this landmass? What were these islands? And why were we still travelling west?
That’s when my overactive imagination kicked in. We were on a ghost flight! I was sure of it ;)
It looked desolate down there. No signs of life at all. Vast islands of brown barren earth that looked like nowhere I had ever seen except for maybe on the moon [and I hadn’t been there lately]
I wondered about our trajectory. According to the late afternoon sun we were still travelling due west. I dug in the seat pocket for a map. Sometimes they have those things in the back of the airline magazine so you can see where you’re going while you’re perusing the menu. But there was nothing. Just a sick bag a plastic cup and an emergency card giving directions on how to get out of the aircraft in the unlikely event of an emergency… which I reckon was right about now.
I looked around again. Still no signs of life. No flight crew. No announcements. You could hear a pin drop. Most of the shutters were down and only a pencil thin line of light streamed in from the one or two that people had forgotten to close fully before going to sleep.
“They don’t even know”... I thought blankly ;)
My shutter was open of course. I had been photographing clouds as I always do. I love flying. I love flight. And I love clouds… because there’s just something so compelling about being up there in the stratosphere dreaming *sigh*
But now there was this.
Somewhere deep inside me I was regretting the choice to fly British. If this were an American airline there would have been a party going on. American flights are amongst some of the liveliest on the planet… except for maybe Chinese flights [although Chinese people don’t always clap when the plane lands]… but it’s sometimes nice to know you’re not travelling alone at times like this and the cheery banter of people laughing and loudly recounting their adventures would have been somehow quite comforting right about now.
Another hour went by and we were still heading due west on course for Kazakhstan.
I had always pictured myself sailing off into the sunset one day… but this was ridiculous.
I hadn’t even seen New York yet!
I put down my shutter and went to sleep like the rest of them.
When I woke up… we were back over the ocean.
As it turned out the sun never set that day… it simply moved around to the other side of the aircraft… reassuring me at least that we were now flying in the right direction.
We made landfall again around the 5 hour mark and sailed into Newark around 4.30 pm on the same day we left.
It took 6 hours to fly from Paris to New York but somehow 3 hours had mysteriously gone missing.
What I now want to know is… what happened to the hours we lost along the way… you know… when we were flying due west on our way to Kazakhstan?
I know… it’s probably me. No-one else would ask such a silly question… or stop to even think about it. Most of the passengers were fast asleep anyway and didn’t even know about the adventure they were on…
Next time I’m going to choose an aisle seat… a glass of wine… a pair of those warm wooly socks… and an eye mask. I’ll just go to sleep like the rest of them.
It's not my responsibility to steer the plane ;)