Off to a Good Start

By Sergio Maraschin

June 2016

Thinking back on this, it was my very first trip on a Boeing 707-200. I, along with my brother and mom, were flying to visit my mom's family and place of birth in a small town in northern Italy. I was 11 years old then. I was always excited to see an aircraft pass overhead or watch them depart or arrive at San Francisco International.

I'll never forget that day. At first, I couldn't wait. But as the time drew near for boarding, I started to have some hesitation. Well, I was only 11, and this was a big step, first flight to somewhere I have always heard my parents talk about taking a trip to. So there I was, staring out the departure lounge watching this Air France Boeing 707-200 being towed into the terminal for boarding. Wow, it was big.

We said our goodbye to my dad. I followed my brother and mom onto the jetway and finally to the open door of the aircraft waiting to take us halfway around the world -- wow, what a thought! We found our assigned seats and I got nervous, not scared but nervous. For a moment I was unsure of what was going to happen, but the push back was smooth and easy. I thought, "That's not bad," closing my eyes briefly.

Sitting there, I heard the engine power up and the feeling of thrust from the engines now pushing the aircraft to the runway. It was an incredible yet scary feeling for this then-11-year-old taking his first plane ride.

Finally, the moment of truth. We turned on to Two-Eight Right and waited for what seemed a few moments, but only a few seconds had passed. The engines came alive, rolling down the runway, and I recall the feel of speed picking up and seeing the blue sideline light now becoming a blur as we sped by. Finally we were off the ground and climbing. Turbulence was affecting the aircraft as it climbed to cloud level and the first right bank-turn. I looked down to see the ground; it was a little terrifying at first, but it became interesting as I wondered what lay ahead.

With a 13-hour flight ahead of us, I settled in for a nap and enjoyed that first flight. That Air France Boeing 707-200 was fantastic, and I always remember that day and that flight. Today, with several million miles under my belt, I still remember that first flight.

Thank you, Boeing, for a great start and my love of flying.