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Have you ever been in a prop plane?

Wendy . Blog Published 20 March 2009

Have you ever been in a prop plane ? (see vocabulary at the bottom)<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Aviation has changed considerably since my first flights aboard propeller planes in the late 1950s. It was a LONG WAY from San Francisco to New York. In fact, it was SO FAR that we had to go via Chicago in order to refuel. Flying was really exciting then and people got dressed up in their Sunday best. I was just a little kid, but I remember looking down at the clouds from our seats which faced each other! Is that possible or just a child’s impression? The plane smelled of cigarettes, but so did most everywhere in those days. The trip took all day. I don’t think there were movies, but they fed us and the pilots gave us little pins, our own wings, when we went into the cockpit to talk to them. The door was always open, and as I recall it wasn't even a door: it was a curtain. That certainly wouldn't happen today. The big excitement was on the return. There’d been a big snow storm and the plane had to be de-iced. This meant that snow and ice had to be taken off the wings with high powered hoses. Yes, we were already on board.

It was years before I ventured into a prop plane again and then it was with some trepidation. It was 1971. Jet planes had been born, and I’d been on several. The big song for traveling youth in those days was Peter,Paul and Mary’s recording of “I’m leaving on a jet plane”. We’d left Spain and had been traveling all summer, through France, Italy, Greece, around Albania, and were now in Yugoslavia. When we finally reached Skope, Yugoslavia we’d had enough. The only reasonable way to get to the coast, to beautiful Dubrovnik, was to fly. “Yes, yes, you can fly” the travel agenct said. “It’s a very short flight. Go.” So off we went to the airport, expecting to find a lot of jets. Well, there was ONE plane, a prop plane, and it was ours. OK, here we go. There were only 6 of us on board, and we bounced over and under the clouds all the way to beautiful Dubrovnik.

It WAS worth the effort, though we continued on by bus and train for the rest of the summer. Then in the 1980s I had to make the decision again. We wanted to go from island to island. And inter-island hopping was via…you guessed it….. prop plane. There were alternatives, of course. We could take a slow boat and lose a day, or swim in shark infested waters! So here we were about to get on an 8 passenger rusty derelict from …who knows when. The maintenance on these planes was NOT the best, and I watched, yes WATCHED, the little screws unscrewing on the wings as we flew the short distance to the next island. No, we did not feel very secure, and looked longingly at the one jet and one sea plane sitting in the airport.

Maybe I exaggerate, but over the years I’ve had the “opportunity” to fly in perfectly maintained prop planes. I usually turn down the offer.


flights: trips on a plane; vuelos

got dressed up: put on elegant clothes; ponerse guapo

Sunday best: elegant; para ir a misa

a little kid: a child; una cría, una niña

fed us: gave us a meal; nos dieron de comer

wings: pins like a pilot wears; alas

cockpit: front of the plane where the pilots are; cabina

storm: very bad weather; tormenta

hoses: tubes used to direct water; mangueras

prop plane: propeller operated plane; avión de hélice

youth: young people; juventud

bounced: jump like a ball, botar

hopping: pump on one foot (to hop) ; saltar

guess: formulate the answer with no help; adivinar

shark: preditor similar to a fish; tiburón

screws: nails that twist; tornillos

longingly: hopefully, wishing something would happen; con ganas

turn down: reject; rechazar

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Comments (1)
EMiLiO (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Every time I fly to my hometown in Melilla, North Africa, I have to take a prop plane. We still fly in them planes. And they are small and shabby! And dangerous! There have been many accidents lately (in the past 15 years, like 3 or 4 of them)

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