Plane Tales

A few months ago, I luckily stumbled upon Eva Liparova’s Plane Tales, a project in which she invited fellow passengers to write in a notebook and pass it around during her 9-hour flight. Brilliant!

I knew that when I headed back to the states after these spring travels, I’d have to try it. While in Montpellier I bought a cheap notebook, and prepared the intro and instructions while in Madrid. I basically copied Eva’s intro and instructions word for word, but chose a different theme and starter question.

Plane Tales - Rebecca Thering

After I wrote the first entry and prepared to get up and hand it to someone, my heart started beating oh so fast! I didn’t realize what a rush of nerves and excitement it would bring, but I knew I just had to move.

When the aisle was clear, I got up and walked to the front row of my section. A woman was reading and I asked her if she spoke English. “Yes,” she replied, so I thrust the journal in her hands and said something very brief, like “You can write in this if you want,” and then got the heck out of there! Back in my seat, I pressed play on the film “La La Land” and calmed down as the notebook was now set free.

About two hours later, after a meal had been served (to those who’d pre-ordered it) and the lights were dimmed, a flight attendant handed the notebook back to me. The pen was squeezed in between the pages, cap missing. I’m not sure what happened—if someone asked him to return it to me, hadn’t read the instructions, or simply didn’t want to pass it along—but at that point so many people were snoozing, so I held on to it for a majority of the remainder of our flight. Nine pages had been written in, which was awesome, but there were so many more people on the flight!

When the lights were back on and no food carts were in the aisles, we had about an hour remaining in the flight. I handed the notebook to someone down my aisle as I got up to go to the bathroom. When I got back, it was sitting on my seat. No, keep passing it, I thought.

So I tried again: I stood up and handed it to a guy in the row behind me. “It’s not mine,” he said immediately. I briefly explained that he could read and write in it if he wanted, or just pass it to someone else. (Note: When I do this again in the future, I’ll be sure to write something clear on the cover that communicates you’re supposed to open and read the instructions.) Fifteen minutes later the book was returned to me again, this time with one additional entry. We still had 45 minutes before landing, but everyone was so antsy that the flight was over, I gave up trying to pass it any longer.

It’s still really cool the people who did get a chance to participate! Below are the pages that we created together on our flight from Oslo, Norway to Ft. Lauderdale, FL on April 21, 2017. (Emails have been whited out.)

We are heading 4 Miami Beach (my brother, mother, and me) to celebrate our mother’s 50th birthday. We almost didn’t catch the plane because of some trouble with my mom’s vision, because of an error with a passport code. She had written one 0 [zero] too many and had to apply for a new one… but it worked out! <3
QA: My mom and dad. Because they are just awesome.

Q: Where are you going, and why?

17:30 This is so nice 🙂
We are going to South Beach Miami – to celebrate my 50th birthday, with my beautiful and wonderful children: Christina and Alexander.
This is our 1st trip to the USA
QA: My beautiful children
Q: Where are you going and why?
7E. Tampa. Home
79. On a cruise from Florida
Seat 8F – From Norway, going on a cruise with RCCL from Florida. Enjoy.

17:45 / Seat 9G
Hey, smth special!
I’m Lina from Norway, 50% Lithuanian – 50% Norwegian. On the way to Miami Beach 2 visit my boyfriend! Flying like 2 a MND. and spending way 2 much time on the plane!

Happy b-day 2 Lisbeth who is traveling with 2 children, I saw that you had trouble @ the airport today!
Don’t have any Q to ask! Enjoy vacation everybody!

18:00 [In Italian—I have a friend working on the translation]

I got 3 books with me
Italia, by Massimo Franceschell,
Amerika by Franz Kafka
Incontri con Uomini Straordinari by Gurdjieff

I am going to travel around US

I am going to travel inside me

I miss my ex-girlfriend

It might have worked.

Christina from 6E translated the Norwegian from this first entry (thank you!):
Hi, Good trip from a Kent,
life happens right in front of you.
I lived a long time before I even realized it.

London, Paris, Rome – saw every major sight. Now we are going home to sleep for a month.

We come from Denmark. We go to visit our grandchild Sage she lives in Coral Springs. Aalbong, Copenhagen, Oslo, Florida

Eat at La Strada in Mandal Norway. We are also from Coral Springs. On vacation.

Two Swedish ladies on a tour to USA. Going for a trip “Harmony of the Seas” for one week. We will visit Haiti, Jamaica, and Mexico (Coucumel). Hope for a lot of sun and swim. Then back to Sweden and a lot of work (one lady 69 years and one 71 years old). Hope you will have a good time in your country.
Sir and Juga-Liu.

I’m an Estonian girl whose home is in Florida now. Hope you guys enjoy your trip.

[Another in Italian, I believe!]

I am moving Ft. Lauderdale after living in Budapest, Hungary for 2 years.

Our Travel:

-Colombia to FT Lauderdale
-FT Lauderdale to Doha
-Doha to Greece
-Greece to Italy
-Italy to France
-France to Belgium
-Belgium to Holland
-Holland to Norway
-Norway to FT Lauderdale
-FT Lauderdale to Colombia

From 17H:

Rebecca, I think you had a great idea with this notebook.
Hope you have a good trip.

Hello Rebecca,
I have 8 years old, I am called Ivan, I am in the seat 17G I am going to Fort Lauderdale and then to Colombia back home. I have 2 cats, one sister and my parents. I went to Italy, Greece, France, Belgium, Holland-Netherlands, Norway, and Finally I am going to Ft Lauderdale.
1. Did you read the instructions of this notebook?
2. Where do you come from?

Hi Rebecca, my name is Lorenzo. I’m going to a bachelor party in Miami. I’ve been there once: ten days in January.
I wish good luck for everything.
Nice things to do on a flight.
As you can see I’m writing while turbulence 🙂 #20D 19:40pm


Thanks to all of my fellow flight passengers who participated or helped pass the notebook along!

If you want to make your own Plane Tales book on an upcoming flight, it’s super easy! You just need any notebook and pen. You can even take the instructions straight from Eva’s original, as I’ve done.

Safe travels!