In the Day of the Great Flying Boats

    The passengers are seated comfortably in the richly decorated lounge, taking tea and cakes , while chatting amiably. Men are dressed in beautifully tailored business suits, their look and pose reflecting their social status. Women are in their Sunday best, with colorful flowing dresses patterned in silk and lace, large exotic hats and sufficient precious jewels to fill a small 5th Avenue boutique. Each passenger is well aware of their status in society, which is clearly evident all the way from their carefully crafted persona to their matching monogrammed luggage sets.
    Outside, the crowd is larger, more casual. Excited folk, leaning as far over the fence as possible, craning their necks for the best possible view, watching in awe as the impossibly large sea plane is gently maneuvered and secured to the loading dock, where it floats majestically awaiting its next mission. They can only dream of the wonders that the fortunate passengers will experience, as they are whisked in luxurious comfort across the Atlantic Ocean to exotic destinations.
    As the lounge doors are opened for boarding, even the passengers, who do their best not to reflect the excitement that bubbles within, turn to their winged chariot with anticipation. Ushers guide them along the dock to the cabin entrance. They walk in casual groups to the welcoming entrance of the still silent winged giant, not acknowledging the less fortunate crowd that has turned out to watch their departure. Stepping into the entrance, they cannot help turning to give a brief wave and smile to the watching crowd.
    Inside they are ensconced in absolute luxury plush comfortable seats & tasteful decor, with elegantly dressed flight stewards to cater to their every need. Outside the crowd’s excitement grows as the aircraft is released from its mooring, and its giant radials are brought to life with a deep rumble that is music to the ears. The aircraft turns and heads slowly downwind – deeper into the harbor, as the passengers settle themselves – making sure their expressions reflect their casual approach to their pending journey, hiding the excitement & occasional twinge of fear they feel within.
    The aircraft turns into the wind and the engines are broughtsmoothly up to takeoff power, their idling rumble changing to a powerful roar. The aircraft sits back in the water as she accelerates, spray shooting out from her keel like a white peacock’s tail. As the wings begin to do their magic, her body sits more level in the water and she begins to skim the surface until finally, the lowest point in her keel is lifted into the air, a trail of dripping water falling back to the harbor.
    The crowd watches as the giant hulk lumbers overhead, clawing for altitude. All eyes are glued to its curvaceous surface, as it grows smaller in the distance, carving a giant arc in the sky as it heads out to sea. That such a large creature can take to the air, with such elegance, is a mystery to most that watch, and the glorious vision they have witnessed will stay with them forever, keeping alive the flame of their dreams to one day be one of the fortunate few within.

-Craig Barnett
Capetown, South Africa