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FLYING USED to be something special, almost magical, when I was young. And this photo of a jet, flying in front of a super-full moon in California, brings back those memories.

These days, flying is cattle-class, and some Americans travel in what looks like pajamas. But when I took my first flight as a little kid in the early 1960s, my mother and I dressed up in freshly ironed skirts, freshly pin-curled hair and even gloves. Stewardesses (they were called that back then) were kindly; the food came on real plates with real silverware. I gazed out the window, spellbound by vast stretches of land and ocean and mountains of white clouds.

We were flying to Europe. For me, it could have been a flight to the moon, as it was so unknown and so far away. I had heard, somewhere, that the water and food were really different in Europe. Maybe, my child’s mind feared, the air was different, too. What if I couldn’t breathe very well?

So climbing the outdoor stairs to the plane, I stopped before entering the cabin and took deep breaths to get the good air while I could. A sibling poked me as I stood there, practically hyperventilating and holding up all the other passengers.

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To my pleasure, I found that I could breathe just fine on the plane. And in Europe. And, maybe, if I’m ever lucky and rich enough to be a space tourist, on the moon.

Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times NWTraveler editor. Contact her at