This Monday I depart for a visit to New Zealand, about as far as I can go from the UK before I start coming back around the far side of the globe! In total the journey will take me 29 hours, and with the crossing of multiple time zones I will have shifted a total of 41 hours, i.e. losing 12 hours along the way. I hope to get them back again on the return journey at the end of February when the same 29 hours of travelling “compresses” into just 17 hours on the clock! I confess to not looking forward to the jet lag.
When Qantas flights between the UK and Australia first began the journey took 12 days. With the launch of their direct Dreamliner flights to Perth this March the travel time will reduce to around 17 hours. Such is progress.
It is astonishing to think that powered flight was only invented at the beginning of the last century and the first ever international passenger service (between the UK and France) commenced in 1919.
The search for the freedom of the heavens has fuelled man’s imagination from Leonardo Da Vinci onwards. Have a look on line for his amazing 15th century designs for a man-powered helicopter! Most of us however experience flight sealed in an airtight steel cylinder, glimpsing the world below through a small plastic porthole. The brave-hearted go gliding or parascending or if truly fool-hardy sky dive or 'base-jump' off mountain peaks in so called “wing-suits”.
The Bible too is full of the imagery of flight, most often associated with the pursuit of spiritual freedom and divine power.
As I finalise my preparations for departure, this poem seeks to capture the contrast of modern aviation with the true freedom that awaits us all in God’s good time.
Where once far distant places
Were measured in weeks of plain sailing
Now reached in mere hours of pre-packed flight
And even more of plane waiting.
Since Leonardo’s day the fantasy of flight
Has fuelled man’s imagining
From Montgolfier to Whittle.
But still this unrequited yearning
Not corseted in steel but soaring
Like an Eagle.
He will return the way He went, they promised.
So we will meet Him in the air
And heaven’s gate both departure and arrival
In the twinkling of an eye.