I’d like to publicly admit that I am indeed a date re-creator. If I have been on a date that is “hip, hip. hooray!” worthy with one person, I am not too ashamed to try it with someone else. So when I saw that ZOZI was offering a “learn to fly a plane” experience near San Francisco, despite the fact that I’d done the same thing in Chicago, there was no way I was saying “no” to taking Library Brian up in the friendly skies.
As we drove Huckleberry Fit just a hop-skip-jump from my hometown to Fly Bay Area, Brian did ask the question anyone in his shoes would want to inquire about: what the heck was I thinking booking a small-plane flight when I myself hate flying with a fervor so intense I tend to have panic attacks and cry? The answer is two-fold: part of me simply wanted Brian to have a completely brand new experience, one which he’d remember for the rest of his life – and trust me, taking the controls of a small plane delivers. But second, once the sickening feeling in my stomach had gone away during my flight in Chicago, I’d kind of enjoyed myself. Yep, I rather liked being in a small plane.
I think Brian thought I was mildly off in the head. No matter.
We were met at the San Carlos Airport by Gabe, the owner of Fly Bay Area. While I’m certain Gabe went over the mechanics of the plane and safety instructions, I was mostly consumed by a few different thoughts: the first was fear because darn it, Brian was right. I kind of hate flying. And the second was “Holy crap, look at those people dressed for Burning Man who charted a plane to take them there and back!” Yes, some people fly to Burning Man – and I’ll have you know they do it in ass-less chaps, fishnet stockings, and one awful lot of fur. And they were disembarking from another plane.
I quickly found myself in fight or flight mode – and literally, since we were buckled into a small plane, I realized I was probably going to have the weird horror of doing both: fighting through but flying still. As Brian taxied the plane under Gabe’s easy-going tutelage, I sat in the back and distracted myself with taking photos. Apparently you don’t have to turn off your cell phone during take off in a small plane. Just as I was snapping a photo of a windsock, we were up and off. And I wasn’t even crying.
Within ninety seconds, Brian was taking control of the plane. While I “eeeed!” quietly and tried not to do it into the microphone so everyone could hear me, Brian was stoic and silent. In fact, he almost seemed hyper vigilant. Gabe gave him very relaxed instruction, and soon we were over a few waterways, then mountains, and then at the coastline. And any thought I had about crying was now completely gone because oh my goshness, fog.
San Francisco has a love affair with our fog – he even has a name (Karl) and his own corresponding Twitter and Instagram accounts (both @karlthefog). While I knew Karl had a tendency to creep over the hills and into the city, spilling onto the bay with long, cloudy tentacles, I had no idea Karl wasn’t contained to the coastline. Nope, instead he spread out over the Pacific all the way to the horizon. I couldn’t stop staring. After Brian banked the plane a few times, we eventually made our way over the Stanford campus before flying by salt flats (who knew there were salt flats in the Bay Area?) and Gabe took us in for landing.
Once out of the plane, Brian was giddy with adrenaline and excitement from having flown a plane, and I was rather pleased with myself for having not teared up once. We had both edged out of our comfort zones, and found ourselves intertwined in the shared experience.
Nope, don’t regret the choice to recreate a date one bit. Besides, even if you’ve done something once, it’s never the same the second time around.