The Silence of the Skies

The aspect of the coronavirus pandemic lock down that frustrates me the most isn’t the isolation from other people.

Neither is it the inability to leave the house.

It’s the silence of the skies.

As the border restrictions bite and the Qantas Group and Virgin Australia prepare to stop regular flights overseas and cut domestic frequency, other airlines have also culled their flights into and out of Australia.

The near constant music of aircraft across the sky has fallen to an occasional distant hum. The rainbow parade of liveries has disappeared to white and red, the odd orange and silver. The variety of shapes and types shrinking, the queens of the sky stuck on land. Sadness as old favourites may never fly again. Fear for what the future holds.

And all those people left without jobs. I cannot even go there.

I have a love-hate relationship with flying. At its worst there overwhelming anxiety of turbulence and the tedium of being trapped in a small tube with no hope of escape for many hours on end. But at its best… The view of the world from high above, gliding through amazing cloudscapes, free from interruption, escaping the life left behind.

When I am on the ground watching those planes fly overhead I can ignore all my fears and let my dreams soar with them, imagining that I am inside off on some wonderful adventure to far away. I stare up at the billowing clouds and forget my fear, imagining the view from up high.

Sometimes I’ll go to Botany Bay or the airport itself and watch the planes land and take-off or mingle with the crowds and recall the excitement of departure.

Now, more than ever, do I want to dream of escape. I haven’t flown since July last year and since then there’s been so much work, smoke and now the virus. I want to escape the confines of the country, of family demands, of Australians being Australian. Where the biggest decisions are whether to choose the beef or the chicken for a meal or to watch a movie or stare out of the window.

But the planes aren’t flying, the airport is somewhere to stay well away from and who knows what the future holds for tourism and aviation after all this is over?

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