Flying like Icarus

When dreams come true they suddenly become ordinary and lose their appeal. From the Icarus of Greek mythology to the Ottoman polymath Ahmet Çelebi, whose title Hezarfen means 'a thousand sciences', flying and the passionate dream of being able to fly have been synonymous with freedom.

But all this is history now, a matter of ancient myth and narratives of debatable truth value, because, thanks to science and technology and a few intrepid pioneers, everybody has been flying for ages, and nobody thinks he's a bird because of it.
Nevertheless, no matter where you go, that first flight is exciting. That feeling of leaving the earth and approaching the clouds, that experience, and the anxiety it inevitably entails, are something that everyone experiences sooner or later, and that is indelibly inscribed in the memory.

So, when did I first fly? Why? With whom? And what did I feel?
It was October 1961; I don't remember the exact date but it was my wedding day (Oh, this is what they call memory). A frantic rat race - the ones who've been through it know - indescribable. The preparations, the ceremony, the fatigue, the departure on the honeymoon... Our destination was Bursa, our transportation of choice a Turkish Airlines plane. Why a plane, you ask, when there was a bus? Well, we said, we're getting married for the first time, let's also try out this new vehicle known as the airplane for the first time. Were we excited? My wife was. Not me. We arrive at Yeşilköy and... Our plane... Well, it's not exactly a magnificent specimen, just a normal domestic flight aircraft, small but quite crowded. The most exciting part of flying for the first time is takeoff, becoming airborne, that sound (What sound? Just a sudden sound) and the ringing in the ears as the plane ascends.


Everything is going well, we are ascending. Holding hands, we look at each other and smile. So this is flying. What, in other words? All of a sudden lightning flashes nearby and a rumble of thunder approaches, the little plane lurches through the air and the passengers wear looks of consternation. The excitement mounts but is short-lived and in the end we arrive at Bursa in the rain, jump in a taxi and reach the Thermal Hotel where we change our clothes and make it in time to the Bursa gala of the film, 'Ankara Express'.


So went my first flight. As for subsequent ones, they were devoid of any excitement whatsoever but increasingly comfortable, familiar. Sometimes I thought the trip was too long, sometimes I even grumbled that it was too short. The airplanes were of all different makes and models, the airports all seemed familiar and the roads into the city center all alike. Flying? There's nothing special about it any more. Altitude, clouds, air pockets... And they are just for decor and special effects.