A Boeing 787-8 Intercontinental

People love to hate flying. Everyone is desperate to tell their travel-nightmare stories, to complain about exorbitant prices and fees, and to ask what is the deal with airplane food?

Today, Sam bucks the trend and shares why he loves airplanes.

Music for this episode is by the galaxy’s own Breakmaster Cylinder and Mark Bramhill. Illustration by Jessie Lamworth.


SAM GROSS: So I’m going to Japan on Wednesday. And I’m honestly almost most excited for the plane that I’m taking there.

Hi, I’m Sam Gross, I’m an airplane enthusiast, or as some people call us “AvGeeks.” I’m flying a Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, the longest plane in the world… which is a distinction that really doesn’t matter for passenger airplanes because that just means it’s more inconvenient to board your seat. But it is itself sort of emblematic of the dream of travel because it’s the most modern version of the first true, like Intercontinental luxurious airplane. The 747 is almost 50 years old at this point, and basically the most recognizable aircraft in history, everybody knows what it looks like. It’s literally called “The Queen of the Skies.” The hump, which was originally not made for being a passenger space, now has business class in it. And it’s the dream of every nerd to fly upstairs cause it’s so cool to go upstairs on an airplane. That’s ridiculous! But I get to sit upstairs is the most exciting part. That is going to be so cool and I’m going to be the huge nerd who’s like staring out the window with his face against the plastic and everyone else’s around me is going to be giving me very, very, very strange look because who is this weirdo who has come onto the airplane and is like oohing and ahhing over every little piece of plastic.

I picked where I was going to go and then said, “what is the most interesting way I can get there?” This is the most interesting way, but on the other hand, it was a little bit less convenient. I’m actually flying through Korea rather than flying directly there.

MARK BRAMHILL: You, you are definitely not the normal traveler.

SAM GROSS: Uh, no I’m not. Although there are a lot of people who have always said something to the effect of like, the journey is as exciting as the destination and I sort of subscribe to that.

I’ve always had this fascination with transportation going from my youngest days when my parents will happily tell you that I used to sit strapped into my car seat in the back and point out and name every car that we drove past, and that naturally sort of developed into everything that I used to get around, I started to learn everything about. So when I started to travel by plane a little bit more, I started learning everything about airplanes. And then, you know, even more recently, I’ve moved to New York City and I’ve become a subway nerd because I use the subway to commute.

I actually keep a list of every type of plane that I’ve ever flown on. There’s only one other plane that Boeing currently makes that I have not flown on the 787-9 and then one Airbus, which is the A-380.

Sometimes I feel like compelled to explain to strangers just how amazing it is, how safe they are. Because statistically they’re literally safer than walking down your block, and that is just amazing. The fact that planes land and take off on time, for the most part, you can drop your gigantic suitcase off at a desk and walk onto an airplane and then fly halfway around the world, change planes, fly another couple of hours, get off of that plane, and then your bag is sitting there waiting for you is amazing. It takes thousands of people working in almost perfect harmony to make it happen, and yet we do it hundreds and thousands of times a day to the point where 4 billion people a year fly on planes. I mean, frankly, they are so awesome.

MARK BRAMHILL: Enthusiast! is produced by me, Mark Bramhill. Today’s music is by the intergalactic Breakmaster Cylinder, and by me. You can find lots more to be joyful about at enthusiastpodcast.com. Thanks for listening.

SAM GROSS: Now, of course, having said this, when I land on Friday, my bag will be missing because I’ve just said how great it is that nothing ever goes wrong.