It was over half a century ago. Just about a half century before that, the Wright Brothers were making it possible.
On the 20 minute flight, the lone stewardess even served a snack. That didn't take too long; there were fewer than a dozen on board.
The airplane was a DC-3, one of the last with the old-fashioned tail wheel, something that made both landings and takeoffs exciting when the tail wheel met or left the runway. These planes were sometimes called Gooney Birds, but were respected for their airworthiness. It has been said that the only way to wreck one is to fly it into the side of a mountain. Sometimes that happened, but not that day. Kansas doesn't have any mountains.
My second airplane ride, the trip home, was routine. I was now an experienced twelve-year-old air traveler. We had gone to an amusement park for an hour or so, but we could have skipped that part.
In the half century after that, I haven't flown much. I got a pilot license. During training, my instructor and I were shooting landings, landing and taking off again, touch and go it is called. When he complimented me on one landing, I told him it was the first I'd made with my eyes open.
He seemed a little pale when the lesson was over and we got out. I guess he didn't know I was kidding. Some flight instructors are said to have a drinking problem.
A few years later, I flew to Mexico City, as a passenger. All I remember from the flight is landing at the Mexico City airport just before dark. It's always the landings that are scary. You never see the runway until just before touchdown.
This had been over mountains into a huge valley, where Mexico City stretched for miles in all directions. It was like landing in an unimaginably enormous bowl full of stars.
That part wasn't as scary as it should have been. Later, I found that the Mexico City airport is considered one of the most dangerous airports in the world.
Landing at El Alto(High Place) International in Bolivia some years later seemed almost routine, even though it is one of the highest commercial airports in the world. It was taking off when I found what the 13, 325 foot altitude does for jet engines. It felt as though we rolled the entire 13,123 feet of cobblestone runway until we sort of fell off the mountain top.
My most recent flight was three years ago, a ten-hour, five thousand mile trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, on a cultural exchange program sponsored by Rotary International. Coming back just before dawn, I saw Jamaica from thirty thousand feet, visible as a carpet of lights almost too small to see, surrounded by the darkness of the ocean. Unforgettable.
If I never fly again, this will be the flight to remember, both in speed and distance. It's even better, remembering my first experience aboard a Gooney Bird, a very long time ago.