Airports do all the work, airplanes take all the glory

5 Oct

Airport is such a fascinating conglomeration of human genius!

Without understanding how things work, how they work inter-connected, how interconnections multiply and serve different purposes; without setting up standardized agreements on the global scale (how to measure time, distances, values …), without discipline to follow these agreements, there would be no airports.

Airplanes are merely carriers of people and goods, they are as much as an envelope is for the letter. What we want is to get the letter from point A to point B, and that requires an envelope, a stamp, a mailbox, post-offices, postmen etc. For us to get from point A to point B through air it takes an airplane, a ticket, some gates, terminals, shuttles, fuel, a luggage service, a pilot, a navigating system, a runaway etc.

So here we are now: only 112 years after brothers Wright succeeded in flying for the first time in human history propelled by an engine, there are 93,000 flights every day transporting more than 8 million people and 140,000 tonnes of stuff.

Only a few decades have passed from figuring out how to shape the wings appropriately, to using airplanes in warfare, and a couple of decades more to using the airplanes for public transportation.

There is _so much_ cutting edge technology in a single airplane, connecting with more fascinating technologies on the airport. Taking off and landing seems so effortless with all the modern technology. The precision of airplanes taking off and landing one by one in a long queue in the sky is staggering.

It is no different in the airport building itself. The largest airports are some of the busiest places on earth, employing tens of thousands of people to serve the endless streams of travelers.

Aeronautic science has affected so many aspects of our lives. The need for aerodynamics and for packing constituents as compact as possible brought about smooth design. Now we can find similar design in practically every industry. Just look around right now and you’ll see it in your mobile phone, computer screen, furniture, tables, newspapers, machines, tools, cars …

The ultimate influence of the air transport is that it made us over-emphasize the quality of packaging and neglect the contents. So now we have lame, dumb people flying around in top-notch machines, staring at 50 programs on mini screens –clueless …

It used to be that people with a mission, a calling, a reason would put on their travel gear, and travel until their legs hurt — that was a lot of content in a plain envelope. Now we only watch movies about such travelling in sequels until our butts heart.

That’s why travelers with genuine calling and rich soul don’t fancy commercial flights: too much of an envelope! The envelope like that will certainly suffocate their free spirit.

Whenever I walk through an airport I think to myself: “Haven’t they taken it too far?”

I feel like a tweet, written on a piece of toilet paper, packed in a truck-size cast-iron envelope.

Fuck that! I’m a novel! I like to travel envelope-free! I want everyone I meet to be able to read me. I want to be able to read them.

Travelling shouldn’t be just seeing points A, B and C. It should be seeing as much as possible between these points as well.

Air travel robs us of that, as convenient as it might seem. I’ll continue to use it when necessary, I admit; but I hanker more and more to travel by foot to places close to my home and my heart, to connect with people of the ground, not with people of abstractions.

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