Monday, 19 April 2010

The Sound of Silence

Last night I looked up at the sky and heard the silence. Thanks to the erupting Icelandic volcano, all the aeroplanes have been grounded, and it is a strange thing to look into the sky and see not a single plane. No jumbo jets taking passengers on an exotic holiday, no private planes zipping its wealthy occupants across the counties, no gliders, no helicopters, no nothing. The skies are once again a domain for feathered friends. They must wonder what has happened to the strange metallic objects that usually tear loudly across the blue. Jubilant birds – take back your heritage!

It is strange not to see a plane, but stranger still not to hear them. We’ve become attuned to that distant rumble of displaced air, a sound so commonplace that we barely notice its vibrations anymore (unless you live under a flight path of course). Maybe when air travel starts again the noise will be over-whelming, and people will protest and write to their local newspaper (as that does wonders, Disgruntled of Dorset.)

My first experience of air travel was a holiday to Spanish island Majorca with my parents when I was eight years old. We flew at night, so I’d be shaken awake, blinking, at some yawn-inducing hour, and we’d sing in the car on the way to the airport. It was incredibly exciting to go somewhere ‘exotic’ that wasn’t an English holiday camp, even though the minute we landed (or so it would seem) I’d be shunted off into the children’s prison (the dreaded mini-club for 7 – 11 year olds) and realise that no matter whether we were in England or Spain, my days would be grimly filled with organised 'fun'. I’d still be required to find a pebble with a hole through it, fill a matchbox with a number of objects beginning with ‘s’, make some sort of tutu, and at some point have to wear a slightly sweaty crepe paper fancy dress costume and do a 'turn' on stage.

When was your first aeroplane trip and where did you go?

Picture by


Crystal Cook said...

The children's prison?! That's too funny, poor little you :)

Honestly, I have never, ever flown in an airplane before. Weird right?

But we live next to a base where planes (jet's usually) fly over head all the time. It really bugged me at first, but now I hardly notice it!

music obsessive said...

Luckily, I rather missed out on the must-go-abroad-for-holidays generation so I didn't get to fly until I was 24. I flew to Amsterdam (to meet a friend who was doing some research there) ON MY OWN and even at 24 it was a bit scary.

Now with kids, I haven't seen the inside of an aircraft for nearly 10 years and strangely, I don't miss it at all.

Btw - great image of the Ladybird book. Have you got my two all-time favs, Magnets Bulbs and Batteries and Light Mirrors and Lens, by any chance?

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I'm being transported back to the Sixties with today's blog posts. Piedmont Writer had Monday, Monday and now here's The Sound of Silence. Where's my radio? I need the Oldies station. Anyway, it reminds me of the week after 9-11 here in the U.S. All air traffic was grounded and it was so strange to go outside in my back yard and not hear the planes. Not that I live next to an airport or anything, but we get used to them don't we? And then when they're gone, it is so very very strange.

Jayne said...

Hi Crystal. I hated the children's prison with a passion! We'd start the week wary, be forced to be friends, and then end it with a zealous passion to win all the prizes going - I remember being gutted another child won an egg cup. The kids would come home exhausted!

And that's interesting, not weird at all, but I don't often come across folk who have never been on a plane. Perhaps it is because Europe is so relatively near to the UK and it is easier to hop across.

Rose said...

It is strange without the rumble isn't it- what is really strange is that I never really noticed it was that that made it so loud. This weekend was so perfect and I can't help but think it was partly due to the lack of noise.

Of course we need planes and I like them but the rest was fascinating.

My first trip was when I was one but I don't remember much. The first flight i really remember was being about 7 and just being so so bored for seven hours and just wanting to cry with the rage of it! we were going to Carribean so it was worth it (it sounds flash but it was kind of after my Grandad had died as a treat).

I do remember going to Portugal when about 3- i don't remember the flight but i do remeber screaming whenever my Mother and Father tried to leave me with a sitter to have a romantic dinner together- oh dear!

Saumya said...

Haha, this is so adorable!

My first trip was to India (technically London where we stopped for a layover). As an aspiring novelist, I enjoy your posts! Good luck with everything!

Laura S. said...

My first airplane trip was visiting relatives in Arizona; I was barely a year old so I don't remember it! Four years ago I went to Disney World with my friend, so I that was my first plane trip I remember. The flight was short, which was good because the anticipation of landing made me very nervous! Two years ago I went to Hawaii for my honeymoon. Whew, that was a loooong flight. I finished reading three books that trip!

I'm not a huge fan of flying, but touring our amazing world makes it worth it!

Talli Roland said...

It's crazy, isn't it? No planes! By the sounds of things they'll be back soon enough, though.

My first plane ride was to Orlando, Florida. I was 4 and so excited!

Fran Hill said...

To Singapore, when I was six, and we were going to live there for a couple of days as my army dad was stationed there. I was very sick, and the pilot let me go into the cabin and watch him fly the plane. This will tell you how long ago this was ... I bet it wouldn't happen now!

Unknown said...

The first flight I remember was between Heathrow and Dublin, I was five. I actually flew in the other direction first but I was only six months old. The only photo taken with just my Dad and I in it was taken in a photo-booth at the end of that very first flight - that photo is a treasure.
Isn't it quiet? There is a flight path which brings planes over my house, but at a great height, but the sky has been bare.

WV: anded...that is one l short of weird!

Jackee said...

LOL! Loved that glimpse into your 8 year old mind.

My first flight was at 8 too, from Florida to New Mexico, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever--especially since we went through a lightning storm.

Thanks for commenting on my blog so that I could find yours! You were definitely one of the ones that I wanted to find, but your profile is locked.

Have a great week!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Jane--Thanks for stopping by my blog...sorry you came when I had an I'm gone post...I'm actually from England. My Grandad managed three hangers at BA in Heathrow before her retired. I loved living near airports and always have. (Until we moved to Iowa (UGH) ) I remember after 911 how erie it was to hear no planes. Then the first few weeks after they started flying again you had to look at them and make sure they seemed to be flying int the right direction.

I hope all of Europe will be up and runing soon. :)

Old Kitty said...


Oh I commute via the Stansted Express line and believe me (I mean I am very sorry for those who are stranded and unable to get home etc) the novelty of being in a near empty train is just wonderful.

I wish now I went to Kew Gardens over the weekend - I love Kew but the planes always spoil it for me - but last weekend would have been bliss...!

Yes - hoooray for our feathered friends - the sky is theirs for the time being!!! I hope they are having the time of their lives soaring in metal free if ash filled skies!

Take care

Plain Jane said...

I used to like airline travel until I read some book by Stephen King. I don't remember which one, but ever since then I feel like my joints are being disconnected from my body. I spend the entire ride reminding myself that it is all in my head.

Al said...

My first plane trip was way back when I was three. After my mum's dad died she took my brother and I to England to see our grandmother. Being back in the "olden days" we caught a ship from Oz to England.
On the way back we were modern and sophisticated (plus the 67 war had closed the Suez canal) and flew back via the USA. One of my few fragmentary memories of that trip is looking out of the plane window somewhere (I know not where).

Janet O'Kane said...

Living in a very rural spot in southern Scotland, we are fortunate not to have our lives polluted by the sound of airplanes except when the military is carrying out an exercise. It's pleasing that those not so fortunate are able to enjoy the sounds of nature for once.
I first flew at the age of 12, to Majorca also. Can't remember much about the flight, it was no big deal. More memorable (and disturbing) was the sight of my parents in their swimming cossies, which I'd been spared up til then.

Jayne said...

Hi Karen. My radio is nearly always tuned to the past! The planes are back now – I noticed when a helicopter flew over my house at 5am and woke me up. Hooray for air travel! (sort of)


Hi Martin. I have never been to Amsterdam, but my first flight on my own was also at the age of 24, I think to either Paris or Sweden, both for work at the time. Posh flights those – I remember taking advantage of the free alcohol! The last time I went on a plane was to Cape Town in 2008. And are those really the title of the Ladybird books?! Love the range of Ladybird – but no, I haven’t those books! No wonder I am useless with practical skills. No one thought to give me a book on circuitry!


Hi Rose. I agree – the weekend past was perfect, and I bet it was because of the lack of noise. It would be so nice to have a organised week off from planes each year, sort of a worldwide initiative. I remember my hand luggage as a child was packed full of things I thought would amuse me – books, note-book for whatever story I was writing, walkman and home compilation cassette tapes featured very highly – I used to lug around fifteen tapes around with me! And when younger it was Sindy dolls, their luggage, their clothes, their toys. They had more fun than I did!

Jayne said...

Hi Saumya, and warm welcome! Wow that sounds a good first trip. And thank you – good luck with you, too!


Hi Laura. When I was younger I loved the take off and landing, but now I am older and have seen more news stories... yeah. Now I clutch stranger’s hands and wince! I think my longest flight so far has been to Vancouver (snowboarding holiday in Whistler) – I think it was fourteen hours. There were lots of biscuit breaks I seem to recall. Arizona, Disney World and Hawaii sound good destinations to me!


Hi Talli. Wow – good destination for your first ever plane ride! And yes, back they are. Have no idea why I just turned into Yoda just then.

Jayne said...

Hi Fran. Gosh, that certainly wouldn’t be allowed now I am sure. I never got to do that – I remember my mum urging me to ask once, but I was too shy, sadly. One thing that does seem strange now was I have photographs of me and my friends on our first grown up holiday when we were eighteen – all of us on the plane smoking away. Seems weird to think that was once allowed.


Hi Elaine. That photograph does sound like one to treasure indeed. It was so lovely and quiet – but now they are back, and a helicopter woke me up the other morning at 5am, I am sure with an extra whisk of his blades as he ‘could’. The word verification thingy can throw up some timely combinations sometimes! Have turned it off for now... and have already been spammed! It might go back...

Jayne said...

Hi Jackee. Gosh, thanks so much for letting me know that about my profile follower pic. I had no idea it was locked – and now I think it is open, at least I went in and changed the picture and linked the URL – so now I am hoping that problem has sorted itself. I am a bit hopeless with blogger – sometimes it likes me, sometimes some things seem a bit broken around my blog such as not always showing the correct number of comments. Every so often I pop in the settings and have a ponder about what it could be! And wow – flying through a lightning storm at the age of eight would have been the coolest thing ever! Flying through one now and I’d need a sleeping pill.

Jayne said...

Hi Sharon. Thank you for popping over! I don’t think I could live under a flight path but I do love old classic planes - Lancasters and Spitfires, bi-planes and tri-planes. The planes are back again now, and we all did a bit plane-spotter moment out of the window at work – like we had never seen one in the sky before!


Hi Kitty. Ah I know that line! I’m the next one along at the moment – Hertford East to Liverpool Street. I can imagine that a near empty Stansted Express is a weird experience. And I wish I too had thought of the Kew Gardens idea – it would have been perfect!


Hi Jane. I know exactly the book you mean – it’s a short excellent story called The Langoliers. I don’t think I have thought of that one before during plane travel, but guess what I will be thinking from now on? :)

Jayne said...

Hi Al. Oh catching a ship to England – it sounds so grand. I have never slept on a ship – the most seafaring I get is the ferry to France – one slurp of over-priced coffee with a bite of croissant and you’re there. That must have been a headache for your folks trying to work out how to get home with the Suez canal closed.


Hi Janet. It sounds ideal (idyll?!) where you live. It is so noisy down here – the rumble of traffic mostly – sirens, helicopters, planes, people, air conditioning – it really makes me appreciate the silent times. One of the other things I remember about that holiday was one of the hotels near us had a competition to find the ‘Miss Hotel Name’ – and the name of the hotel sounded great in Spanish but translated to something like Miss Fat Duck. Heehee!