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the evolution of flight

By Kaylie-Ann Flannigan

I often find myself staring out windows. I think this may have started as a baby riding around in a mail truck. I come from a long line of mail fairies, transporting the written word to people all over the state of Vermont.


My wandering gaze was further solidified over time when mom and I would road trip all across the country in high school making sure to catch a glimpse of every state outside my window, so I could say I did. As an adult I turn into a puppy – head out the window, basking in the wind in hopes I won’t miss a beat/a sight/a bird; my favorite tree.


I guess you could say that I’ve always had a fascination with birds. I can only remember being

afraid of one bird in particular and it was sometime in grade school: a swallow. She lived outside my bedroom window. After giving birth she grew territorial. Whenever I played by my window, she would dive bomb near my face. I didn’t go outside much that summer.


My love of birds was continually reinforced by my family. My mother and I somehow always

came across birds in need: we would rescue them and bring them to our local animal hospital for help. Aunt Kathy is a wildlife biologist. She can identify almost any bird she sees in the wild or at least those near her house in New Jersey. For Christmas one year she bought me a northeastern bird book and some snazzy binoculars. I still have both.


In college, my advisor recommended I read a book called Bird By Bird in order to help me focus on my thesis and spare me from constant panic attacks and overwhelming emotion. I found this advice counterintuitive since it added more to my work load to now read this book in addition to writing my thesis. I read it anyway. It helped. I loved it and I leant it to my friend and co-worker Julianna. I never got it back.


My favorite kite is a tie between an owl and a falcon. I only have two kites. I love to fly them

outside when its windy enough. I had two pet cockatiels growing up: Chancum and Peaches. They were terrible, killed their eggs, and always tried to escape. One day they did just that, but my grandmother’s cats found them first.


The first time I flew alone on a plane was in eighth grade. I was headed to a leadership

conference in Boston; thrilled to be on a little Cessna. Little did I know this commute from

Southern Vermont Regional Airport to Boston would be a well-traveled route throughout my

college years.


I have never been afraid of flying. Maybe it’s because if you expose a child to something young enough they get used to it. I boarded my first plane at only two months old going to Albany to Florida with my mother. She hates flying.


I feel most comfortable in the sky, existing in a space between here and there. I guess it’s mostly my mother’s fault for letting my head stay in the clouds for so long. Now, at least, my whole body is up there too.

Kaylie-Ann Flannigan considers herself a professional dabbler and she exercises curiosity in a multitude of mediums. A sociologist at heart, she enjoys collecting stories and writing about folks in our vast and magnificent world. Her current project centers around people and planes. Kaylie is a Vermont native living in New York City, where she works full time as a flight attendant and has way too many roommates.

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