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by Bob Kerstetter
Dark rumblings stir west, north and a little south of Dallas/Fort Worth International airport. The plane — Boeing 737 American Airlines Flight 2413 — leaves the gate early as noted by the pilot then waits on the tarmac for 15 minutes, probably because of the weather. In one isolated spot, the shrouded sun lightly brightens the darkness, yet remains invisible. The inky weather rules. Flight 2413 sits full and heavy.
Taking off late, the airliner rises smoothly from the runway, banks east from the airport, slips south — probably to avoid the weather — then turns toward Los Angeles LAX, continually climbing.
Twisting currents cuff the passenger freighter with sudden and abrupt slaps and punches. Why should this be? Intuition says fluctuations in a gas atmosphere should press softly against its flying guests, even rigid ones. After all, what is solid about gas? Still, the plane jerks left, right, up, down — absorbing smacks, thwacks and bashes followed by a body wallop stiff enough to prompt a unified, harmonized “aaaaaah” from the cabin. Intuition gets jettisoned as the pulsating gases mug the plane.
Thirty more eternal seconds and the 737 escapes the atmospheric rapids into abrupt stillness. Life suddenly feels secure and peaceful. Even the non-stop turbine whine softens to a lilting rhythm. The skies clear to the curved ocher edges of Earth. The partial disk appears crisp against the friendly blue wispy background. Reach through the window and you can touch the sky. A storm generates clarity. The creator of life meant people to fly.