High Fly

First full day on Maui, Day seven of the Hawaiian adventure.
What do you do with a woman who has developed an irrational fear of flying? Put her in a helicopter for an hour long tour of Maui, of course! Call me crazy but I really wanted to do this. I wasn’t coerced or unduly persuaded. For some stranger reason this adventure was one I refused to miss. I took every single scrap of courage, every speck of composure, every smidgen of calm I could conjure and simply said yes. Emphatically strong. Yes. Completely in control. Yes.
However, to convince me, myself and moi of a safe trip the night before the flight Kisa kept checking the weather reports, looking for anything that might deter me. He knows how I feel about the wind. He kept assuring me they would not fly if they thought the winds were too strong or if they were coming from the wrong direction. All I could picture was our helicopter being tossed on the erratic air currents like a toy. But, I held firm to trust – yes, I still wanted to go.
The next afternoon we arrived at Air Maui early. As we checked in there was talk of the winds picking up. They maybe, possibly, might have to cancel the last tour of the day which was our scheduled flight. They fitted us with safety vests and instructed us to wait anyway. Then the receptionists turned their attention to gossip and chattered on about dates and dinner reservations while I nervously kept fidgeting with the straps of my vest. Repeatedly I coiled and recoiled the straps into tight balls until Kisa grabbed my hands. I made frequent trips to the restroom, hoping to urinate my fears away. A trickle of sweat meandered down my back and soaked into my bathing suit.
Finally it was our turn. We were going to fly. Winds or no winds, we were leaving. We were joined by a father and his two young sons. A few pictures taken and we were allowed to board. As I took my seat and strapped in I took a quick inventory of my surroundings in case they became my tomb. I had to concentrate on reminding me & myself we did something similar to this a long time ago…and survived. A plane ride in Florida with someone we trusted less than Kisa. Retracing that memory helped calm me, myself and moi for this one. Through the muffled earphones I could hear the propeller blades start their whirring rotation and the engine awaken with a roar. There was only one moment a panic. One time I started to lose my grip on courage and feel it slip was at takeoff. The nose? of the helicopter dipped as we lifted up. It was an unusual sensation.
How to describe this journey? Is “magical” too corny a word? It’s ridiculous how much fun it was to soar over steep cliffs and plunging waterfalls; to fly under the arc of a perfect rainbow or rise higher than a rain cloud.
Our pilot, executive director Janette, was a wealth of information; a blend of touristy sales-pitch and local historian. Depending on who you asked some would say the script was heavy on the marketing info. Janette would point out the island’s five star hotel and list its amenities (where coincidentally my in-laws were staying) or casually mention gold packages for purchase. Still others would argue Janette has spent her entire life on the island but it’s obvious she grew up loving the land in which she was raised. Yes, there was a sales pitch at play but I was delighted with Janette’s stories of her childhood, remembering her tutu’s (grandmother) wisdom. My favorite part of the tour was when we encountered a little turbulence (yes, really!). Janette likened it to surfing in the ocean. It’s the same concept. We are riding a current, one of air instead of water.

Categories: Confessional | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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