Gimme a Ticket For an Aeroplane

By Dan Cramer

October 2016

At age 18, my brother and I were invited to fly from Chicago to Nice, France, by my grandfather. He paid for our airfare and provided accommodations at his home in Cap Ferrat just outside of Nice. I remember the thrill of climbing the air stairs at O'Hare and boarding a 747 for the first time on a midsummer night. (I imagined being the president of the USA.) From a teenager perspective, it was like an adrenaline rush.

We arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris the next morning. We boarded a connecting flight to Nice. After a 16-day visit, we departed Paris, bound for Chicago. My brother, who was a U.S. Marine at the time and also a great conversationalist, decided we needed to visit the flight deck. This was at cruise altitude! He pressed the flight attendant call button, and the next thing I remember, we had a crew member escort us to the flight deck!

The first thing I noticed was how loud the rushing air was, and how the windscreen looked solid white from ambient daylight. It was truly a surreal moment because of the sound of the wind. The crew was very accommodating. They showed me the autopilot switches, etc. I have been the No. 1 fan of Boeing 747s since that day in 1984! I still wonder how my brother convinced the crew member for the flight deck tour! Great aircraft -- back then and now.