Monday, November 26, 2007

Buckle Up!!

I was fortunate enough to have a few days off over Thanksgiving but it was back to work as usual yesterday. The Sunday after Thanksgiving is typically the busiest travel day of the year and yesterday was no exception. The lines at the security checkpoints at DFW were jammed like never before. Most holiday travelers are not aware of all the latest rules and regulations concerning airline travel and they invariably slow down the security process. But that's just part of the airline experience! Fortunately the weather in Texas was decent and there were no delays throughout the day.

My trip today was a repeat of a trip I flew last month. DFW to Richmond to DFW and then Tulsa. Shortly after takeoff from DFW we started receiving reports from Air Traffic Control and other flights that the turbulence was bad at all altitudes. That was an understatement.....The chop was relentless all the way to Richmond. Much to their delight, the cabin crew had to remain in their seats for the majority of the flight. (They didn't have to do a drink service!) The turbulence finally ended shortly after we landed!

After landing I took a short walk next door to the general aviation ramp where there were a pair of F-18 Hornets parked. The one on the right is a trainer (two seats). The instructor pilot sits in the back seat. The student gets the front seat. The one on the left is a regular single seat fighter.

Nearby there was an old 1950's vintage Lockheed Lodestar that I had to check out. It appeared to be almost airworthy. There are very few of those left.

As I was walking back to the MD-80, an airport police cop came roaring up in his car with his lights flashing. He angrily stopped me and said that I had left the secure area of the commercial ramp and entered the general aviation side without permission. Apparently I had set off some sensors and the alarms were triggered and I caused a big stink! I told him who I was, what I was doing, showed him my ID and he started to calm down. He wrote down all my vital statistics just in case I was a terrorist. I hope I don't hear from the FAA about the incident. He wouldn't let me walk back alone so he gave me a ride in his car. He drove me right up to our jet with his lights still flashing and let me out on the ramp. I wonder what our passengers in the terminal who were looking through the windows were thinking!

Back to DFW and the same turbulence! Three hours worth. We tried changing altitudes from 20,000 ft all the way up to 34,000 ft with no luck. Just one of those days. We had a two hour break at DFW before the leg to Tulsa. I was hoping that the skies would be smooth by now but unfortunately it was even worse! It was only a 35 minute flight but that was way too long. There wasn't much talking going on in the van to the hotel...everyone was exhausted from the day's experience. The day was finally over...

The next day (today) had us flying from Tulsa to DFW, then to Denver and back to DFW. Fingers crossed for a good ride and luckily the skies were smooth today for all three legs. Parked on the ramp in Denver was an old Boeing 727 operated by Champion Air. All US commercial airlines quit operating 727's years ago. They were very fuel inefficient and required three pilots. Nowadays they are mostly operated by charter airlines and freight carriers.

Back to DFW from Denver and I shot a photo of the new Dallas Cowboys stadium being constructed in Arlington. We landed on the west side of the airport and made the long taxi over to the east side for an on time arrival.

Three days off now.

Thanks for reading.

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