By Don E. Porter |
Editor’s Note: Don E. Porter has served on the United States Sports Academy’s National Faculty and is currently a member of its Board of Visitors. He has spent much of his professional life advocating for the sport of softball at the international level and was instrumental in helping to secure the sport’s place in the Olympic Games.
During the course of a 40+ year odyssey, that of bringing a little known American domestic sport – softball – in to the Olympic arena, I had to travel mostly by air to more than 100 countries.
In the early days of non-jet flights it was even more difficult, both in air time and dealing with smoke in these sealed aluminum tubes they called airplanes.
Actually, there were even more miles not recorded by military aircraft taking me to far off places in Asia and Europe during the time of conducting sport clinics.
As the miles added up so did the stress level, resulting in medical issues let alone the wear and tear on my body especially my legs, surviving long walks between airport gates and the many weekends of running up and down the artificial turf of football fields.
To my amazement I survived a hijacking in the early seventies which I didn’t get any extra miles credit but did get to testify at the hijacker’s trail. Speaking of hijacking, that wasn’t the only time, which brings to mind a cameljacking in Tunisia, eventually settled for $20.
My really first experience of flying was a military air evac plane during the Korean War, an old and older converted DC3.
While there were times during flights that I was nervous, that mainly came on going to North Korea during the mid-1990s. The country’s Air Koryo didn’t seem the most reliable way of getting there safely and getting back.
Most of the 10 million plus miles were mainly in hoping in bringing Olympic recognition to the sport of softball, that American domestic game.
While there are many more tales to spin of the “friendly” skies” I will leave there for now, in that I just finished two back to back flights of 24 hours or more!