Monday, August 20, 2007

Prisoners and Transplants

On the previous post I told you about my home in Lake Tahoe, California burning to the ground. I took the month of July off to start the rebuilding process and I am now back in the saddle working the remains of the busy summer flying. If any of you have traveled this summer you know how insane it has been, packed airplanes, terminals, taxiways, and jet routes. The hurricane season is back blowing its affects on the Pacific and Caribbean waters. Now matter what happens out there, my job like thousands of other pilots in the left seat is the same, flying countless numbers of people in the safest manner possible. That in itself is fairly mundane and repetitive as it should be. In the middle of this day to day routine the odd things show up at any time.

On my first trip back I saw two things I want to share with you. While taxiing out to takeoff in North Carolina I saw a large group of people around an unmarked white Boeing 737. This is not that unusual for charter operations. A large corporation might fly hundreds of its employees to a vacation destination or military charters fly to anywhere in the world. What got my attention on this one particular group of people was that they were all dressed alike and seemed to look similar. I then noticed that they were all handcuffed and being escorted up the stairs into the jet. It was a large group of prisoners or illegal aliens being taken someplace far away. On scheduled passenger flights it is possible to have an escorted prisoner onboard. You would most probably never notice this as the prisoner and escort are always boarded first and placed in the last row of seats. The prisoner is handcuffed but they usually have a small jacket over their hands that make it look like the person is simply walking with their hands in front of them. The prisoner and escort leave their seats after all other passengers have left the airplane. For the minute possibility of having to evacuate an airplane quickly due to an emergency, a prisoner/passenger is not allowed to have their ankles cuffed to their seat.

On this same flight I did the exterior preflight before we left. As I worked my way around the jet I saw a human organ container on the ground waiting to be loaded into the cargo bay. Human organs for transplant are carried everyday on commercial airliners all over the world. Human eyes are the only organs that can be carried in the cockpit. Eyes come in a standard sized box about a foot square. Occasionally you receive a time sensitive human organ shipment and are given a special call sign that gives you priority handling on the ground and in the sky. When I was a young copilot I was given a box of eyes by an agent. I took them to the cockpit and asked the captain, “What do I do with these?” He said, “Strap em into the jump seat, we can always use an extra set of eyes to look for traffic.” It’s good to be back. Be Safe, FlyGuy.


Blogger Mi SoSmart said...

They all look like illegals to me. I am glad you updated it's been forever.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous sam said...

Good to hear from you again. I remember a similar occurrance in DSM earlier this year. They raided a meat plant in central Iowa, bussed them to the airport and sent them away.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Teller said...

I recently got my first experience with eyeballs on board.

We got to be Lifegaurd for the leg, that was a nice convenience. Never thought I'd see organs in a garbage bin, though.

Down in Mesa, AZ they run the Justice flights in matte white MD-80s out of Gateway. Nothing like taxiing past 15 heavily armed gaurds surrounding an airplane.

Welcome back to the line (and the blog-o-sphere), can't wait to read more!

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big announcement today at your company (at least I think it's the company you work for). How's the mood there?

6:44 PM  
Blogger amulbunny said...

When I was working at the terminals, we'd see ICE escort groups of people to flights going to Central America. They were all handcuffed and ICE had their documents so no screening took place. The ICE guys would stay with them till they boarded and were seated, doors shut and plane pulled away from the gates.

I've only seen people coming off flights in shackles and cuffs, they did not look too happy, but there was always a detective in front and in back of them. Gotta return them somehow I guess.

Great blog!

7:40 PM  

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