I once flew Pegasus Airlines from Iran to Turkey; specifically, as my boarding card showed, from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport to Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen.
Here, splendidly, was a twain that should never have met; the Islamic Republic’s stern ayatollah, architect of a society which recently imprisoned a woman for attempting to watch a men’s volleyball match, brought together with a woman famous a) for having made male territory truly her own by becoming Turkey’s first female combat pilot, and b) being the adopted daughter of Turkey’s arch-secularist leader Mustafa Ataturk. Awkward.
It may flatter to have an airport in your name, as John F Kennedy (New York), Charles de Gaulle (Paris), Ian Fleming (Jamaica), Hippocrates (Kos) and some 400 other historic figures, national leaders, sportsmen and entertainers worldwide would admit.
The danger, however, is that you’re paired with somebody you wouldn’t have been seen dead with (back when you were alive), either for ideological reasons or because their accomplishments might just rival yours. Sympathy? Not from a travelling public busy considering the question: what’s the most satisfying personality match-up n/ever to have featured on an airline boarding card?
Extensive research reveals, however, that no direct flight exists where a pairing cries out for one.
What wouldn’t one give, for example, to fly between Marco Polo (Venice) and Christopher Columbus (Genoa), if only to consider these giants’ respective claims to being the world’s greatest explorer? East by land to China or west by sea to America? South by air to Rome, it turns out, to connect via Leonardo da Vinci. Which only confuses things.
Then there’s Robin Hood (Doncaster) and Mother Teresa (Tirana), another indirect routing, which seems a shame given their shared devotion to the poor – but contrasting ways of delivering it.
Istanbul (Photo: Getty)
What about those historic heliocentrics Copernicus (Wroclaw) and Galileo (Pisa)? Another blank as they connect through Munich.
I had higher hopes for assassinated American presidents JFK (New York) and Abraham Lincoln (Springfield, Illinois), thinking the inevitable spat over their respective legacies might be worth seeing, only to discover they connect through Chicago.
By the time I got to the delicious prospect of John Lennon (Liverpool) and Genghis Khan (Ulaanbaatar), savouring the face-off between Mongol scorched earth and Mersey peace and love, I knew that a direct flight was too much to ask for.
Which leaves the floor to our readers; who can improve on Iran’s Imam and Turkey's first lady Top Gun?
Tehran (Photo: Getty)