UNLESS you own a boat or are a daring swimmer, you have no other option to commute from Saipan to Tinian and vice versa except to board those six or 10-seater Cessna planes operated by Star Marianas Air.
For some passengers, the 10-minute or so flight means agonizing minutes of total fright and had elicited most of the world’s sincere prayers ever but for some others, the few minutes’ flight is a chance to view the beauty of both islands from up above.
Most of the regular commuters between the two islands are used to the flights in these tiny planes but those who cross the islands for the first time or for errands are left with no choice but to brave the flights.
No one can blame you if you are scared to board these flights —not when you feel the small plane shaking and creaking especially during bad weather conditions or see some very young pilots who look like high school students at the pilot’s seat, and worse yet, hear about plane accidents where the chance of survival is very slim.
These flights need not be the end of the world for anyone. You can find a dozen things to do to divert your attention from your fright of the flight and embrace the chance not only to bear it but to enjoy it.
One of the secrets is to take photos and/or videos throughout the short flight. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to do it. Almost all passengers at these flights take photos and videos with their smart devices and cameras from take-off to landing. This is one way of enjoying the panoramic view of both islands from over a thousand feet above the clouds and keeping yourself busy to forget your fear.
Study cloud formations or take photos and videos of them. You will be surprised how far your imagination can go looking at the clouds.
Study other passengers. First-time passengers on these flights are very easy to spot. They are the ones who react in fear when the plane starts to glide on the runway and the door is still open but regular passengers know the pilot will close the door when the plane is ready to take off.
Expect to see passengers who sit stiffly the whole flight clasping their rosary beads so tight while reciting their prayers, or very noisy ones who want to compete with the noise of the engine. Passengers vary, and so do their reactions.
Try to fly at different times of the day or night. You will learn to appreciate sunrises, midnights, and sunsets from a different perspective. The views from up there are never the same but always spectacularly amazing.
As the plane takes off, don’t focus on your fear. Instead, focus on the beautiful spread of jungles and gardens and the blue ocean beneath you. If these flights are something you do regularly or have to do, just learn to relax and enjoy it. Before you know it, the plane has landed and you are back on solid ground.