how do planes fly and refugees

Do you know how planes fly? To me it’s a mysterious thing and think that they, like bumblebees, should not be able rise up into the air.

However fly they do, and fly well, and apart from a frisson of fear I have on take off, landing, and in turbulent weather, I am mostly a non-worrying-flier.

I do have some questions though. How do they get those great lumps of steel up into the air, travel thousands of kilometres, land safely, fuel up and do it all again – but can’t get the internal speaker system to work well? That’s the mystery for me.

Remember, or imagine if you will, flying somewhere, for work or holiday – surrounded by the latest technology and comfort, plugs for the laptop, phones available, individual screens and fifteen channels to choose from – when the internal communication system comes to life.

‘ This is Captain xyzspft splutter splutter from the splutflight deck speaking. We are flying at xxxsyz above xxstrq. Static splutter your trip and the weather is static times two splutter and enjoy your staticzxy”

Well that always worries me. I trust the pilot: I assume they haven’t been drinking, popping pills or smoking dope prior to take-off (although regular, routine testing would reassure me more) but can I trust the electronics that can’t ensure the speakers static free and understandable? I just hope they were not telling me that we are going to land with no wheels down and please assume the brace position.

Now I am sure the regulating and saftey bodies are onto this problem and I need not be concerned but it always strikes me as an anomaly when ‘black boxes’ can be rescued from the depths of water or the heat of fire, yet speaker static continues.

It’s rather sad that such things tax my mind when there are far greater things to be attended to. Things such as refugees, our new New Zealanders, who never chose to travel to a country such as ours but were sent by United Nations from a list of possible places who will accept them.

Now I have no doubt that New Zealand is a great country and, for me, life continues to improve, but I cannot imagine what it must be like to be desperate enough to travel – or rather flee – from my own country to a place where my language is not spoken. Yes I can do it as a traveller: with the enormous freedom of being able to leave or stay as long as I like. But permanently?

Some years ago one of my family arrived in a country and found it “too primitive” (a country I love and want to return to). They left within an hour! Back over the border in a hurry: despite the cost of the visa to go in the first place – such is the luxury of our lifestyles- and the differences of travellers.

Yet it was as virtual refugees that all my family arrived here over 150 years ago (between 1853 and1872). All desperate for freedom from the political systems they were living under. Scot’s running away from the land clearings that hadKate Shephard helps NZ women get the vote

pushed my country folk into the city; the Irish branch from hunger and the potato famine, and the Cornish from the poverty created by the closure of tin mines. All seeking a better life for them and their family: all with dreams of a better life: they, and we have found it.

We are now living lifestyles beyond that our forbears could imagine. They were all hoping for a place where Jack (and Jill) was as good as his master (mistress) and stayed to help develop New Zealand into a country where all could vote – and remember we were the first country in the world to grant votes for women. No wonder we had a feisty group of women when we think of the circumstances of their arrival. The new New Zealanders too bring a level of determination to improve their lives, they too will improve this country… nudge it forwards and I am grateful for that.

Just as my family did, all other migrants dream – whether they arrive as political refugees, boat people, United Nations refugees, or pay to get here. I see no difference in how we should welcome them and the richness they add to our little, under populated, rich country. I wonder what you think?

Author: Heather - the kiwi travel writer

Nomadic travel-writer, photographer, author & blogger. See more on and Amazon for my books (heather hapeta)

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