Saturday, February 4, 2012

Time Travel - Today is my yesterday

Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Have you ever wished for a time machine in which you could explore the past and/or the future? Visit a special moment in your past or explore the unknowns of tomorrow, next week, next year? Perhaps something like the one purchased on Ebay by the guys in The Big Bang.

I have always been intrigued by the fictional and hypothetical idea of traveling through time—not that I want to stay there, just a quick visit. I guess that is why I like writing fictional stories--a place where you can live-out the "what if'" and "if only".

Here are a few of my favorite stories (not in any specific order) built around the idea of time travel. See how many you recall: The Time Traveler's Wife; Back to the Future trilogy; Jumper; Quantum Leap; Frequency; Time After Time; The Time Machine; Lost; Somewhere in Time; Time Bandits; A Christmas Carol; It’s a Wonderful Life; The Terminator; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; Peggy Sue Got Married; The Butterfly Effect; Black Knight; Kate & Leopold; The Lake House; The Philadelphia Experiment; Groundhog Day.

I’m currently reading an interesting book: Tear in Time by Christopher David Petersen. In the story, Dr. David Warner (a surgeon living in 2005) descends in a hospital elevator, and is transported in time to the Civil War, 1862. In order to survive, he must gain the trust of Dr. Jebadiah Morgan, an old Civil War surgeon, who is as skeptical of David as he is intrigued. Demonstrating advanced surgical skills in difficult primitive conditions, he wins Dr. Morgan’s confidence and they soon become close friends. If you enjoy Civil War history, you would like this book. It is well researched.

To some degree, I believe everyone enjoys reflecting on the past and pondering the future a little. Old photographs allow us to journey into the past as we reflect on memories—some so strong that our senses can often recall tastes, smells, and feelings we had at the moment the photograph was snapped. For example, just to name a few, I can recall being 10-years old and the taste of the ice cream sandwiches that my mom brought home in the brown cartons and put in our chest freezer in the garage. I’ve never tasted anything like them since. I remember the smell of the high school locker room after football practice--not my most pleasant memory, but a very vivid one.

This past week, Sue Marie and I had separate encounters that required us to journey into our pasts. Hers was a class assignment (she is taking a counseling class at church) that required her to summarize her thoughts about her entire life and group them into specific blocks of time. Mine was to answer a list of questions about my past life for an upcoming blog where I will be featured: Friday, February 3rd ( In the fourth quarter of life, a trip down memory lane is often a sobering journey. We both agreed that it reminded us of how short this life is and the value of each minute that we have.

Eastern Airlines DC-3 at the Dothan, Alabama Airport in 1950's and 1960's
As I cranked up my mental time machine, I returned to 1959; I was five-years old. In 1959, Dothan, Alabama was like many rural Southern towns with a small country airport. Eastern Airlines and Southern Airways were our airlines operating DC-3s and Martin 404s.
My grandfather and grandmother had just finished their Sunday lunch and called me to ask if I would like to take a drive out to the Dothan Municipal Airport to watch the “big planes”. It had become a Sunday ritual that they must have known was a highlight for their 5-year-old grandson. My grandparents must have also known the flight schedules by heart because we always seemed to arrive just as the big plane was making its landing.

Sign at Dothan Airport

For me, it was a special day. Seeing the big sign listing the miles to Chicago and Miami was exciting. The sign touted our little town and showed the distances to places that I knew nothing about. All I wanted to do was stand at the fence (same fence that was in front of the sign above) and watch and listen as the big airplane landed, taxied in to our little shack-like terminal building (see picture above), deplane and board its passengers, then fire up the big, loud radial engines, taxi out and take off. When the plane was gone, I always wanted more, but the flights were few. On occasions, we might catch a Southern Airways flight and a Delta flight arriving at nearly the same time--now that was a perfect day.

I was twelve-years old (July 31, 1967) when Southern Airways retired their fleet of DC-3s. The company’s last flight was from our little country airport in Dothan to Memphis.

Southern Airways Martin 404
A year later (1968), I took my first round-trip airplane ride in a Southern Airways Martin 404 from Dothan to Atlanta. Seated in a window seat on the left side of the cabin adjacent to the wing’s leading edge, I had the perfect seat to study the big 18-cylinder Pratt & Whitney 2,000 hp radial engine. That is one sound I will never forget, along with the feel and smell of the experience. I was hooked. I wish I could crank up my time machine and return to that exact moment, as I’m sure there are special moments in your past that you would like to revisit—we all have them.

Accepting that time machines only exist in fictional stories, I am reminded that today will soon become my yesterday, and since there are no guarantees for any tomorrows, I must make the most of my present. I'm only allowed one pass through my yesterdays and that time is now.

Life is a one-way ticket. Enjoy the "Flight..."


  1. Good blog Mike. The only thing that exceeded the sound of the R-2800 P&W, was the ablility to crank one without blowing it off the engine mounts. "Listen to the rattle, listen to the roar, as we fly across the southland in a Martin 404. . ."

  2. I love it! I can smell the fabric on the seats, the heat in the cabin, and the feeling of excitement as the big radials slowly start to turn.

  3. Mike same here i like it, my dream was to be pilot but i can't but your post again remind me all my wishes anyway thanks for sharing it with us:
    i cannot be a pilot but now running transportation company by the name of DTW Airport Cars indirectly connected with my dream work lolz..