Cheerleaders, Madi Gras, the Porsche & “I flew in Nam”

February 20, 2007

Travel seems to be a theme in the blogosphere at the moment. Rob and Euan competed for who had the best/worst travel story in getting to DC. Rob develops the theme further with an attack on Air Canada which is more virulent than mine on British Airways, but admits that Peter has the better story. Euan I think has a case against United for suggesting he take the Greyhound bus to DC from JFK when there is an excellent train service! He must have caused some merit that treatment.

In comparison my own week has worked well. London to Atlanta via Chicago and then Phoenix via Dallas. Of course I should keep my fingers crossed and touch wood as this Thursday I return to the UK via Chicago with a storm system forecast. However there have been some highlights:

  1. Having one plane delayed by half an hour while a successful cheer leading team tried to find some place to stow their trophy (which was bigger than their lead performer)
  2. Not been allowed to sleep by three madi gras participants who had been upgraded and wanted to continue the celebration between Dallas and Phoenix. They were handing out beads and shouting to each other across seats, and to the fourth companion who was still in economy and seething
  3. However the best of all was, having resigned myself to missing the flight to Phoenix, I made it with an time to spare. My flight was at 1720, by the time I finished a series of meetings at Coca Cola in the heart of Atlanta and picked up my luggage it was 1615. Rachel and her black Porsche (God I am jealous) got me to the airport in under 15 minutes, which includes queuing time in the Centre of Atlanta and at the airport. The speed, and the weaving between lanes was truly impressive, and I still felt safe! Friday I have a hire car booked, with a 1.1 engine (sigh) so will make more sedate progress home, and then back to the airport on Saturday for a rugby trip with my son to paris

Travel stories are one of the most common forms of what is known as ditting, the competitive telling of stories. I can normally win such competitions with the story of one trip between Boston and White Plains during the ice storms of some years ago. The plane (one of those very little planes with one seat on each side of the aisle) finally took off late afternoon, having been targeted for early morning. Half way out the pilot told us that conditions had worsened, we should not have taken off and he had decided to go on to White Plains as at least we would not skid into the Ocean (I love a black sense of humour). He also told us not to worry (that humour again) as he had “flown in Nam”. We then came into White Plains at what seemed full speed, flying very low and at the last minute he stalled the aircraft a foot or so above the runway and we landed abruptly, but safely. I was subsequently told that this was a tactic in Vietnam to avoid being hit by missiles, but in the this case was about the only way given the wind that we could have landed. A conventional approach would have meant the wing hitting the runway for certain. It is one reason I try and fly on airlines with ex military pilots, they have more patterns on their brain for an emergency. If course when we did land we all cheered and the pilot came out of the cockpit and gave us all a welcome slug of whisky. It was not until we were in the terminal that we realised the the bottle had been half empty when he came out of the cockpit …….

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