“This is where the important people go to fly… What are you doing here?”
Our dubious taxi driver wanted to know why a group of scruffy graduate students were being dropped off at an airport that catered to private planes. As I explained that we were going to Midway Atoll her confusion appeared to increase. She, like many people including myself before this last year, knew little to nothing about Midway.
The small airport was indeed luxurious, but the prop plane we boarded did not match the images I had conjured in my head while reading Private Jet magazine in the Airport lounge. As we climbed the stairs to the aircraft my friend Cristina shot me a nervous glance, her fear of flying likely magnified at the prospect of spending five and a half hours in this small plane. Her fears were relieved while takeoff and flight was comfortable. Yet as we approached Midway the captain warned us that there was small storm and the landing might be rough.
As we descended through the clouds a tiny strip of lights in the sea of darkness became visible. Winds bounced the plane from side to side. Cristina gripped her seat as if her hold would prevent the plane from crashing into the rough waters below. As the plain neared the runway a computer voice from the cockpit counted down in a mechanical voice “40, 30, 20, 10.” Just like a countdown to takeoff, it only increased our anticipation. The plane finally touched down, Cristina released her death grip, raised her arms in a halleluiah pose, and shouted: “We did it!”
I stepped out of the plane into misty darkness As the plane powered down the air became filled with clacking noises and a chorus of high pitched screeches which sounded like wind whistling through trees. The golf cart that we boarded illuminated the sides of the road and thousands of albatrosses came into focus. Light from the cart traveled no more than 10 feet off the road before it was swallowed into darkness. Nevertheless it became quite clear that this was an island of birds. It is like nothing I have ever seen before and I go to bed eagerly waiting to see what daylight will show me.