Flying into Helena, Montana, is different. Yes, I am aware that flying into any new town is different. You are not likely to mistake San Francisco for, say, Fargo, North Dakota, as you swoop in.
But I’m not talking about outside the airplane. The difference is inside the plane.
That girl and I both noticed this. Me, last week as I flew home from Ohio. She, just this week as she flew in. I have actually noticed this before and was surprised when that girl mentioned something while we sat eating lunch at the Mediterranean Grill yesterday. “My plane was filled with happy people,” she said. “Two toddlers were running up and down the aisle before we took off and everyone was talking with them, asking them questions.”
A plane filled with people flying to Helena, Montana, is abuzz with conversation. A palpable cheer fills the cabin. People are friendly and courteous.
Helena is a small town. Hell, Montana is one sprawling small town. If you are from Montana, that last statement makes sense. I can say that I know someone in almost every town in the state—at least somebody that came from there. And, consider, only five flights a day land in Helena. There is not a lot of hurry.
On the plane, this translates into people seeming to have a vested interest in everybody else. Pretty soon, people are asking strangers questions: What’s taking you to Helena? Flying home? Where are you from? Who do you know? Do you know so and so? What is your favorite lake or river? Have you tried a burger up at York? Are you a hunter?
I wrote last week about a deep conversation I had on my flight into Helena. I have had many of those on flights home. Meaningful conversations. Pleasant conversations. Flights into Helena are different.
We are all flying home.