Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Please, tell that to my wife

I showed up at the Fort Lauderdale airport on Monday afternoon for a nonstop flight to Los Angeles.  Shortly after arriving at the aircraft a maintenance supervisor told me that the aircraft had a problem with a valve in the engine, and we were looking at a 3 hour delay.  I walked out to the gate area to inform the agents working the flight.  I hung out at the gate to answer questions and made a public address to the customers in the gate area.  I explained what the problem was, why it needed to be fixed, and why it would take that long to do.  I also told them that based on the time frame we would be arriving in LA between 1130 pm and 1230 am.  The flight was booked with 183 passengers who of course all had different reasons for flying this flight on this day.  So the questions began and I answered them all as quickly and honestly as I could.  An elderly gentleman of about 80 told me he was going to be on the tonight show on Wednesday and would he get there in time.  A young mother told me her daughter wanted to meet me, she was about 5 as she told me she was in kindergarten.  One passenger wanted to know if we had a spare plane we could use.  A concerned young women asked if she would be able to get a cheeseburger in-flight.  A young gentleman was hoping to make a tight connection.

It was somewhere in this questioning that a man about 35 years of age approached me, held out his cell phone to me and asked, “Would you please tell my wife what you just told us, she doesn’t trust me.”  Curious but baffled I put the phone to my ear and said, “This is the Captain speaking, how can I help you?”  She wanted to know why we were delayed so I told her.  One of the main reasons we needed the problem fixed was to have anti ice ability on the engine.  There was weather we could possibly fly through and may have needed to heat up the engines at altitude to prevent ice buildup.  The wife of the man told me that the weather was just fine in Los Angeles so we should just go without it.  I told her that she was correct as it is part of my job to know all about the weather and not just in Los Angeles but the other 2,096 miles of airspace that we would travel through to get there.  The weather of concern was 1000 miles away from her and I did not think she could see that far. I also told her she had a husband standing in front of me and it was my responsibility to make sure that later that night he would be safely standing in front of her.  As she was agreeing with me and accepting my words I glanced up at the husband who had a look of relief on his face similar to the one a young boy has when he finally gets to pee.  I told her I had to go as other customers were waiting to talk to me and handed the phone back to her husband who launched into a foreign language I could not understand but recognized as Middle Eastern.  I can only assume his first words were “I told you so!”  

The next person was a man about 30 years of age. He was about 6 foot 6 inches and looked like a professional wrestler.  To my amazement he held out his Blackberry and asked if I would talk to his girlfriend.  It was the same thing all over again!  This impressive specimen of a man was shaking as he handed me the phone in relief.  I introduced myself and asked her how is it she makes this guy shake from 2000 miles away.  I was instantly her best friend.  A brief explanation to her and I was done.  

A decision was made to use an inbound aircraft for my flight and we took off about an hour and a half late.  I can’t help but wonder what was going on in those couples lives that trust and the lack of it has become such a burden for them.  In my game, trust is everything.  Be safe, FlyGuy

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Waiting for Takeoff

This photo was taken in line for takeoff on runway 13Right at JFK last week. You can see the buildings of lower Manhatten in the background.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

I was catching a ride to work on Friday with my good friends at Southwest airlines.   I was able to get a seat in the cabin rather than having to sit on the extra “jump seat” in the cockpit.  I know that airline seats can be very uncomfortable but the cockpit jump seats are torture.  I settled in between two women and we all tried to hunker down in the sanctity of our “space.”  After takeoff and climbing through what was probably 10,000 feet, the airplane encountered some turbulence that made several passengers scream, including the poor women to my left.  She had a look of utter panic and looked at me for some kind of support.  I was in my uniform.  I told her that what just happened was no big deal and that as long as I wasn’t screaming; she had nothing to worry about.  Just then the airplane bounced hard and she started crying.  I reached out and took both of her hands in mine and she gripped them like they were a pair of winning lottery tickets.  She started to tell me how scared she has always been of flying and that she flies every week.  I just listened as she told me her story.  When the turbulence stopped, I let go of her hands and listened some more.  I realized that I was listening to a very nice human being, who like most of us just wants to live a good life and get along.  I heard about her family and job, her car and friends.  She lives in Sacramento but likes New Mexico.  Before I knew it, the rushing sound of air over the landing gear was filling my ears.  At the gate in Los Angeles I got off and she went on to another destination.  I will never see her again but her “thank you” kept a smile on my face for my redeye to Florida.  Be Safe, FlyGuy.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Lady in Red

Just before pushback from the gate in Los Angeles, an elderly woman of about 75 years of age stepped into the flight deck and said that she had something important to say.  She proceeded to tell us that in her lifetime she had been married to two pilots (yes, I asked if they were at the same time) and that she had many sexual experiences while flying.  She was dressed in red, all red, even had a red beret on.  She told us about the time that she was having a “lovemaking” encounter while flying on a commercial aircraft many years ago.  According to her in the middle of this act, the airplane suddenly encountered strong turbulence.  The turbulence greatly enhanced the physical encounter and it was one of her more memorable moments.  I told her that if I was 30 years younger I would be all over her.  She smiled and said “I’ll be in seat 6C”, turned around and went to her seat.  Unfortunately this incident was witnessed by the lead flight attendant, the gate agent, and my copilot.  I didn’t hear the end of it until we parked at the gate at JFK.  That is what I like about this job; you just never know who is going to show up.  Be safe, FlyGuy

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Washington D.C.

We overflew Washington D.C. this past weekend and was able to get some good photos of the city. The first photo was taken at altitude, which was 34,000 feet. The second shot was a zoom shot. Click on the photos to enlarge, you can see the Capital Building and the entire mall to the Lincoln Memorial and the Pentagon across the Potomac.