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I Like Flying.

Submitted by Bill Oechsler

Two strangers on a plane ride out a storm together.

I like to fly. In fact, I am on a plane right now heading to Los Angeles. Last week it was Oklahoma City. The week before, Detroit. The week before, Denver. The week before, D.C. My father was an Air Force pilot. I suppose that might be why flying for me (even for business) has always been an adventure.

Of course, many people do not like getting on a plane, especially in bad weather. One morning I was on a flight out of Chicago Midway when we hit a storm over Lake Michigan. The plane was one of these small commuter planes—prop job as I recall. We were getting bounced around quite a bit. It was rainy and still a little dark outside. All said, not great conditions.

Not long into our flight I began hearing odds sounds from immediately behind me. As the ride got bumpier, these sounds became first louder and then clearer. Finally, I could hear the woman behind me praying nervously.

Without really thinking I bent my arm backward, slipping it between my seat back and the wall of the plane. I extended my hand and immediately a hand grabbed hold of it. And she held onto it tightly. I can only imagine what the two of us looked like but neither of us cared.

A good 45 minutes later we landed. I never let go of her hand, not once. She did let go of mine when we were wheels down and heading to the gate.

In the final moments left onboard we saw each other for the first and only time. I can’t even remember if any words were exchanged between us. However, when I recall that flight, I always hear Bob Dylan “Shelter From The Storm” playing in my head…

Not a word was spoke between us, there was little risk involved
Everything up to that point had been left unresolved
Try imagining a place where it’s always safe and warm
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”