A is for… Airplane

*The theme for my A to Z is Childhood Stories. Some are real, some are embellished, some are downright fictional but are based on the kind of things I imagined when I was younger.*

I had never been particularly interested in airplanes as a kid, but all that changed when reading a particular Famous Five story. The Five were on a plane that was hijacked (in French they were called sky pirates – doesn’t that sound so much more romantic?). The plane was taken off course and crash landed in the jungle where the passengers were taken hostage. Of course, the Five saved the day as well as the others (and of course nobody died in the crash. I don’t think anyone was even injured.)

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I was fascinated. Now that was an adventure. A plane crash, sky pirates, jungle… It blew my young mind, and as a result I dedicated an unhealthy amount of time over the next few weeks imagining how I would fare going up against sky pirates or surviving in a jungle post plane crash.

You can imagine then what went through my head when I found out that, for our yearly trip to the south of France (I’m French but grew up in the UK) to visit my grandparents, we would be taking a plane. That was to be my first plane ride. I was convinced it would be my first proper adventure, too, and I went into paroxysms of excitement and planning — I had to be ready for the sky pirates and/or the plane crash.

I was positively fizzing with impatience as we went through the airport. I looked around at everyone, trying to spot disguised sky pirates as I waited by the gate — and I mean right by the desk where you show your ticket to the air hostess — even though there was the best of an hour to go until boarding.

Finally, we boarded. Of course there was the excitement of discovering the inside of a plane, of checking out the seats, how they reclined, how they snapped forward (and reclined, and snapped forward, and reclined — Celine! Stop that, said my father, apologising at the poor woman behind me.) Then there was the matter of the little table, and then of the pocket on the back of the seat in front, the one that contains an in flight magazine and the security card.

The security card.

As if the prospect of impending kidnapping by sky pirates and plane crashes in the jungle (never mind that there are no jungles in France, that was a minor detail) wasn’t enough, now there was a security card explaining about inflatable life vests. Not only that, but if we crash-landed there would be inflatable slides coming out of the plane doors. Inflatable slides. Talk about fun and adventures.

The air hostesses went through the security demonstration (slight disappointment that they didn’t inflate their life vests but they made up for it by showing us oxygen masks – yet another exciting plane item I didn’t know about), and we were ready for take off.

The plan backed away.

I clenched my fists with excitement and kicked the floor in anticipation.

Please crash, please crash, please crash, I prayed. Please let there be sky pirates. Please let there be sky pirates and a crash.

I repeated my prayer as we taxied down the runway. I whispered it as the plane sped up. I almost shouted it out loud as we took off.

Please let there be sky pirates!!! Please crash!!!

….

The plane was pirate free.

There were no technical faults, the pilot was competent, and we didn’t run out of fuel. We didn’t crash.

Instead, we landed in Nice safely, as planned. We were on time, and most definitely not in the jungle. When the doors opened and everyone started to get off, confirming that there would be nothing on the adventure front, I felt cheated. The pilot could at least have had the decency to land on the water — the sea was just there. And why didn’t anyone hijack the plane?

Disappointment doesn’t come close to expressing what I felt as we went through the airport to go meet my grandparents. Being a resilient kid (and not the kind of kid to remain disappointed when faced with the prospect of long summer holidays spent with my grandparents), I moved my expectation to the return flight. Surely that plane would crash or be hijacked.  

(It didn’t)

***

I should say that while I repeatedly hoped for plane crashes and sky pirates for most of my childhood, rest assured that I have long grown out of this phase. So don’t worry if you ever find yourself in a plane with me — I won’t be praying for the engine to fail…

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38 thoughts on “A is for… Airplane

  1. Great tale, very well told. You captured the details, the excitment, the imagination of a child. Wonderful start to your month of A to Z. I’d never seen this book ( loved the illustration) and you are so right. ‘Sky pirates’ just screams swashbuckling adventure.

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    • Thank you Sammy! So glad you enjoyed it. I was a little nervous about doing childhood stories actually, I was worried it would be the kind of thing that would only interest me and my family – but then I thought what the hell, I’ll give it a go…We’ll see how the month goes!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That was a fantastic story!

    When I flew the first time I was already a young woman, but I was so scared! I didn’t sleep well the night before, and I worried all the time what am I gonna do if anything happens.

    When I boarded the plane (the smallest plane I’ve ever flown since) I was still worried. When the plane rolled, I felt my hear in my throat, and when the plane took off I felt (I literary fell) my stomach going up to my chest. And then…
    I was fascinated. I sat by the window so I could look out and what I saw was just amazing.

    I’m still a bit scared of landings, but I love watching the world from above 🙂

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    • I agree, I love watching the world from above, especially when landing into a new country.
      I’ve flown once on a small plane and I was so airsick – I need the big the commercial jumbo jet type planes!!

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  3. Great story! Looking forward the rest of your A-to-Z contributions! Ever read the Happy Hollisters? The were a series like Tom Swift, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. 🙂

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  4. Oh Celine, you are in fine form today! What a wonderfully constructed story. Sky pirates sounds super exciting. I don’t like heights in general, but I enjoy seeing what it’s like when the clouds are below me. Somehow I am able to pretend that the plane is some special kind of bus, not to worry. 🙂

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  5. Great story. I literally laughed out loud. Children are so funny. I bet that adventure would not have been what was expected if the plane had crashed!

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  6. Celine, You’ve brought a smile to my face with your hopes of crashes and air pirate–and I’m remembering the pie rats from Richard Scarey!. Great story. Looking forward to more.
    Nutmeg

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  7. A lovely blast from the past. I read heaps of Famous Five as a child, then the Mallory Towers books of Blyton’s set in boarding school. Your story is such an innocent mirror to look into compared to the fear of ‘sky Pirates’ and plane hijackings today.

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    • I didn’t actually read the Mallory Towers books, although I loved the Farraway Tree and Amelia Jane books. I know there’s a lot of controversy around her today but I think Enid Blyton was a wonderful children’s writer.
      And glad you enjoyed the story!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love your theme! I was also a Famous Five fan (and I’m much older than you which shows their longevity, despite being slightly frowned upon these days. Your gravel story reminds me of some of my husband’s tales of leading his younger brother and sister astray and getting into trouble with cousins. I, of course, was the perfect big sister……

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    • Thank you Anabel! I was a little worried whether people would enjoy the theme but it seems to go quite well so far which I’m quite glad about.
      Yes the Enid Blyton books are timeless, despite the controversy with them these days. They’re wonderfully magical.

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  9. Now I am going to really wonder what’s going on in the heads of children on my planes! BTW…you say that hijackers are called “sky pirates” in French. So I am wondering, what with the intricacies and mysteries of the French “R”…what exactly do French pirates say? Because everyone knows that Anglophone pirates say “Aaarrrr.” Maybe it’s different for a real French person but if I were to try that one with the French “R” I might choke and fall over. 😉

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    • That’s a very good question, I don’t know actually what French pirates say. I’m not sure that we have traditional pirates since they come from Cornwall, don’t they.
      I think if they did the Arrrr in French, there’d be a lot of dry throats! 😉

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  10. Very cute! My first plane trip alone was from the east coast U.S. to CA at 13. It was very scary. My husband’s birthday is actually “talk like a pirate” day which is Sept. 19. True. I hope to hear about your trip in CA. I lived there for 15 years near Los Angeles. Joan (www.somersethouse.me)

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    • Oh yes I’ll be blogging all about our trip to CA once A to Z is over – I don’t think I have it in me to blog on top of the A to Z posts.
      Whereabouts near LA did you live? Did you enjoy it there? We stopped by LA and it was lovely although those massive roads freaked me out a bit.
      And your husband’s birthday party sounds like a lot of fun!! Great theme!

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  11. Pingback: T is for… Tunnel | Celine Jeanjean's Blog: Down the Rabbit Hole

  12. Hee, hee, what a wonderful story! Particularly the ending. That sounds so much like something I would do — the sky pirates part, though, not the wanting to crash. I love planes and flying and actually flew small single engine planes many years ago. I’m going to have to look up The Famous Five. I’ve never heard of them.

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    • Oh wow that’s amazing that you flew planes! Where they commercial planes or private? I’d love to try flying.
      The Famous Five were a series of kids books featuring four kids and a dog. They solved mysteries and went on loads of adventures. I loved those books growing up – they’re very English!

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