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January 3rd, 2019

Plane, simple

Somehow, I used to not watch planes.

Planes were there, in the background. I'd notice them as a kid if I was at, say, Miramar waiting for Dad's Navy squadron to fly back from the aircraft carrier whose cruise they'd just completed, but by the time I was a first and second grader in Camarillo, California and Navy planes from Point Mugu were overflying the town a lot, I was, um, more focused on having more freedom to walk and to go to both the library and the video arcade.

Virginia Beach (where I lived from summer 1982 to early fall 1984) was that, continued.

But moving to Vienna, Virginia in 1984 and having a great, long view of one of the approaches planes would take to Dulles International Airport: that's when I started noticing planes, really noticing them. Fast forward to the early 1990s and I'd sometimes drive out to Dulles, just to watch planes and all the terminal activity.

And now I work at an airport.

Even with as busy as I can be with valet work, I can grab moments to see planes, planes, planes. I perk up at seeing the occasional 747, a unique airframe that's been almost as durable as the B-52. I get quiet and wait when the National Guard F-15s launch, often with full afterburners burning, from the airport, since they're NOISY; and today was the first time I heard those National Guard planes set off a car alarm in one of the PDX parking garages. I get a little weirded out by how high-angled the cargo planes take off, since those planes' crews don't have to worry about passengers getting jarred by a steep climb. I found that it's a way to pay attention to the weather, by noticing whether airplanes are launching eastbound (meaning winds are coming from out of the Columbia River Gorge) or westbound (meaning the winds are from the west); planes behave better when they launch or land into the wind.

One of these days after work, I'll wait to head home and go up to the seventh floor of the short-term parking garage instead, and just watch planes.

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