Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Happy New Year

There is nothing quite like a great sunset.  Last night I was over Grand Rapids at 36,000 feet taking in a real winner.  We were flying directly to the west in smooth air, flying from JFK to Los Angeles.  The sunset stretched almost 180 degrees in front of me.  The horizon was bright yellow with layers of lighter yellow above that.  Sitting on top of the lightest yellow layer was a sky so light blue it would be hard to describe.  The sky above that takes on a flattened dome shape filled in with increasingly darker blue at the top.  There at the top of that blue dome the sky fades to gray and then black.  As the sun drops lower behind the horizon the yellows turn to orange and the oranges turn to red.  The planet Venus rose early out of the sunset, rising below a quarter moon, the only objects in the sky.  Because we are flying into the west, this light show is drawn out longer than if you were standing on the ground.  We are literally chasing the sunset.  Slowly the blacks and grays fall towards the horizon, chasing the blue that chases the red.  Like every other night, the tendrils of black always win.

I have been busy not being busy with time off and not much flying at the end of the year.  My first trip of the New Year was an interesting one.  I was preparing to fly to Las Vegas, programming the navigation computers when the lead flight attendant handed me a letter from one of our passengers.  It was a type written letter so I knew this person had written the letter before they left for the airport.  It was written by a man named Bert.  Bert was traveling to Las Vegas with his mother, sister, and girlfriend.  Bert had arranged to be married at the Flamingo two days later in what sounded like a very elaborate and expensive wedding.  Bert’s problem was that he had not asked his girlfriend to marry him yet.  Bert’s girlfriends name is Connie.  Bert wrote that he was pretty sure Connie was suspecting something, probably to be asked to get married in Vegas.  Bert wanted to know if I would make an announcement of some kind in flight and ask Connie if she would marry Bert.  Bert was sure she would never expect that.  I talked to the lead flight attendant about this and we both agreed it could really backfire on Bert if he let another man ask Connie to marry him.  Bert needed to ask Connie himself but I could certainly get him to that point.  We quickly came up with a plan and a cryptic message was sent to Bert that I would do all I could for him.

About an hour into the flight the lead flight attendant called me and told me that now would be a good time for my announcement.  I got on the public address system, greeted the passengers, and informed them of our arrival time and the weather in Las Vegas.  These were not my exact words, but I then said, “Ladies and gentleman I would like you now to turn your attention to the rear of the aircraft.  Those of you in last ten rows or so please look forward.  There is a man standing up in the aisle and his name is Bert.  Sitting next to Bert is his girlfriend Connie.  Connie, Bert has decided to make a huge and lifelong change to his life.  Connie, Bert wants you to be the biggest part of that change and he has something important to ask you.  Bert, the rest is up to you my friend, good luck, flight deck out”. The flight attendant was on the interphone the entire time so I knew what was going on in the cabin.  At that point Bert got on his knees and asked Connie to marry him.  She said yes and the entire cabin erupted in yells, screams, and clapping.  I bought them drinks and we proceeded to Las Vegas, arriving under clear skies.  I shook their hands on the way out.  You just never know what you will get when you fly to Vegas.  Be Safe and Happy New Year, FlyGuy.