The Stranger

“You can live a lifetime and, at the end of it, know more about other people than you know about yourself.”

Beryl Markham (1902-1986, first solo flight from London to Nova Scotia-1936)

After a week of “junk” talk about the airport security checkpoint, I do not need to remind you that the experience of powered human flight has changed dramatically since the Golden Age of Aviation. What is different about flight now is that discourses about flight are more often about the security of the commercial passenger than the daring pilot.

After the shoe bomber, we passengers took off our shoes. After the gel incident in London, we packed in three ounce increments. Why is anyone surprised that after the underwear scare of 2009 we are now pat down at the airport security checkpoint?

Markham knew no one else could keep her safe in the skies. All Markham sought was solitude.   “Being alone in an airplane for even so short a time as night and a day, irrevocably alone, with nothing to observe but your instruments and your own hands in semidarkness..can be as startling as the first awareness of a stranger walking by your side at night. You are the stranger.”

We fear the stranger at the checkpoint when the stranger may lie within us. Notice how far we are from solitude.

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