I was born in Santiago, Chile, but raised in the United States by two loving parents to whom I owe everything. I'll never forget the airplane I rode on when I went back to Chile for the first time. It was a Boeing 707-300 operated by Chilean carrier Ladeco. I was 10 years old.
I'm 32 now, and I can still remember the experience of being on the Miami International Airport jet bridge and ready to board the 707. I remember the smell of the dinner being stowed in the forward galley. I remember the floor emergency lights, the overhead compartments being open as passengers stowed their bags. I remember the 3-3 class seating and sitting with my father, who let me take the window seat and gave me the specifics of the 707. I was overwhelmed with joy just to learn more of this magnificent flying machine.
I vividly remember the sound and the power of those Pratt & Whitney engines spooling and achieving the airspeed to take off. For the entire 8-hour flight, my face was glued to the window. I remember seeing the top of the Andes mountain range and the overhead view of the huge copper mines as we approached Santiago Airport. During the final descent, I remember seeing the flaps being extended, the spoilers being deployed and thought how beautiful the 707 wing was. We touched down as smooth as could be.
When we disembarked the airplane in Santiago, I stood for a minute on the tarmac and looked at the beautiful outline of that 707. I couldn't believe the journey I had taken. Although today most of these beautiful birds are gone, I've always kept the passion for aviation, as it is part of my career now as a Federal Aviation Security Specialist for the Department of Homeland Security. That 707 was my first love and the reason for my passion for aviation today. Always Boeing!