I have always been fascinated by airplanes.
I took my first flight when I was two years old and have been on well over 200 flights since.
I flew to Charleston for the weekend with one of my best friends Nicole, and had the honor of being her guest at Boeing’s family day in their South Carolina based headquarters. They open up their hangars and facilities once every few years to the public.
She’s also obsessed with airplanes, but on the level where she can hear an airplane fly overhead and tell me what model it is.
No really, it’s wild. Something will fly over us and she’s squeal “Its a C-17!” And I’ll smile politely and wait for it to come into view because frankly, I have no idea what a C-17 is. (Now I know it’s a military jet.)
Nicole toured me around the Boeing complex where she use to work back in Charleston, and walked me through step by step how an airplane gets assembled.
How cool right?!
I got to see how the sausage is made. And by sausage I mean giant flying metals machines.
I also learned a few things about airplane production that surprised me, like the fact that the weight of the paint matters when it comes to the livery of the airplane- it impacts fuel usage.
And, now I sleep better on airplanes knowing that if both engines go out the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) will kick in and give the plane enough power to land.
I’m just kidding, I sleep perfectly fine on airplanes even when I’m convinced the plane is rocking hard enough to go down. It’s still good to know there’s a back up to the back up though.
The cherry on top of the insider experience was being able to see a Dream Lifter up close. I have a friend who flies them and have heard about them, but I’ve never seen anything so massive, not to mention something so massive that is expected to cruise through the skies.
It’s majestic, really. Like a fat Pegasus slowly pulling itself up into the air.
We spent the remainder of our weekend strolling through the pretty city and sightseeing via horse-drawn carriage like the damsels that we are. Carriage tours are practically as synonymous with Charleston as cobblestone streets and pastel antebellum houses are, so it would have been remiss not to.
I will say that as much as I loved the glamorous mansions of Charleston and their pineapple fountain, one of my favorite things to see there was the almost 400 year old Angel Oak Tree. At 65 feet tall and 25 feet wide, it’s supposedly the largest live oak east of the Mississippi. It’s really quite beautiful with it’s wild, winding limbs and overwhelming size.
This post could easily be summed into: “She went to Charleston, and saw a really big airplane and a really big tree,” but on a deeper level I suppose it’s a commentary on Charleston being an intersection of the old and the new. Nature and technology. History and the future.
But, dear reader, feel free to interpret that however you’d like.