An Idea is Born

“I’m thinking of going across every day,” Filip texted me, out of the blue, a month and a half into the Covid pandemic and resulting isolation. It was early spring, and the world was achingly beautiful, beckoning humanity outdoors and into the sweet air of late April.

“Across where? America?!” My quarantined mind was shocked into full attention.

“Yes. There’s no work. And the fuel will never be cheaper.”

“I’m in,” I said it immediately, without the due diligence of any sort of plan.

Crossing America in a small plane. We’d talked about it…for years. The adventure and the challenge called to us ferociously. Years earlier, we laughed when we realized we were reading the same book at the same time, Flight of Passage, about two brothers who flew a cub across the country. The idea grew in our minds like a wildfire, much kinder than the one consuming the globe, aided in its growth by various camping flying excursions in the Northeast. Flamping, we named it. Fly camping. The greatest combination of flight and camping in the glorious natural world.

Could we do it, across the whole country? Could we really take Old Rusty, our beloved Skyhawk, a 1973 beauty with a recent engine overhaul, all the way, East coast to West coast and back again? Could we do it now? At this massive crossroads in the history of mankind? If we were to undertake this journey, we knew it would need to be special. We had to approach such a trip with deep respect for the full spectrum of human emotion and experience that resulted from the virus.

If we were going to do it NOW, we needed to endeavor to photographically capture the country in its current state, discovering ways that the pandemic had altered the patterns of human movement across the entire nation. And in thinking these thoughts, we realized we had no choice. There would never be a moment like this again. And the opportunity to document it from above could be powerful and potentially helpful to humanity as a whole.

It was decided. We were going. We were flying across America.