Thursday, March 20, 2008

My First Plane Flight

Travel is an affliction of mine--one I’ve been fortunate to be able to indulge one way or another for many years now. As a TV executive, a journalist, a consultant, and many times as just a tourist, I’ve visited 48 of the 50 states, and five of the seven continents--so far. I really indulged myself with two trips to Africa researching my novel Heart of Diamonds. I still literally keep an overnight bag packed and ready to go just in case the opportunity arises.

I remember the first time I got on a jet plane. I was a junior in high school and had won a speech contest--the VFW’s Voice of Democracy--for the state of Missouri. That won me a $500 savings bond and a trip to Washington, DC to compete in the national tournament (which I didn’t win). Believe me, my friends, that was heady stuff for a 15-year-old who had never been further away from home than Topeka. I was traveling on my own, too, since my parents couldn't afford to come along and the organization only paid for one plane ticket.

I still have the pictures (somewhere) I took from the tiny window of that 707. If you’re an old folkie, you may remember the Boeing 707 as the plane Gordon Lightfoot sang about in "Early Morning Rain" and Peter, Paul, and Mary in "Leaving on a Jet Plane." In addition to pictures of the monuments and sites I saw, I have one of me shaking hands with Lyndon Johnson, who was President at the time and hadn’t yet announced he wasn’t running for re-election. We stayed in the Shoreham Hotel across the street from another Washington building that made the news a few years later--the Watergate.

I’m starting to sound like Forest Gump, so perhaps its time to bring it to a close.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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