Saturday, June 17, 2006

pilot tales

Many pilots are natural born story tellers. Especially the long haulers, since flirting with stewardesses, drinking coffee and swapping jokes and stories is all you have to entertain yourself when you are on auto-pilot over the ocean and have been for three or four hours of a nine hour flight...
My Pops seemed to have heard every joke I ever tried to tell him. Ahhh, he would say, smiling but not laughing at my punchline. I've heard that one. But I heard it THIS WAY--- and he would proceed to tell me the same joke with better international flavor--

One story he told me came back to me today. Twenty years ago, he told me this tale...

"We were flying cargo in a 707 out of Australia. I was just a young co-pilot then. Somewhere between Australia and Papua New Guinea, we hit some of the worst turbulance I ever ran into. I looked out the cockpit window and saw our silver wings flapping in the air like the wings of an Albatross. Wings aren't supposed to "flap", they are supposed to gracefully cut through the air and create lift. But these wings (Pops flapped his wings kinda silly like to show what flapping wings looked like--an Albatross with little thermal to ride-- and the effect didn't look too healthy for a 707 full of cargo...)

Now I don't mind tellin' you that I grew a little white and fidgetty watching these wings flex more than I had ever seen them flex before. I started thinking about the engineering involved in designing them, the stress testing, the attention to detail...

The Captain, who could tell I was a bit on the thoughtful side, interupted the worst of my imaginings.... "

"Don't worry," he said. "the engineers have run these situations through their calculators and have come up to a rather unique solution to this amount of flexing."

"Oh good," I said, pleased to know more. "I'd sure like to know what that would be..."

The Captain reached over, right in front of me, past where I was looking white and fidgetty out the window. He simply pulled down the plastic shade so the wings were no longer visible...

"Window shades..." said the Captain..."

1 comment:

Kat said...

I'll tell you a funny.

Yesterday morning I awoke to what passes for normal in my brother's house (I am staying with them while he recovers from two major surgeries). He has two pre-pubescent boys and a four year old girl. I have a dog that's been on a chain in the back yard for a week or two (he is much more used to running free in a fenced yard).

There was banging on the door and the kids were running around the house yelling "someone's knocking on the door". They know they aren't supposed to answer it without direct instructions from an adult. I stumbled out of the bedroom towards the door figuring it was the neighbor kids who are always up at the crack of dawn wanting the kids to come out and play.

Went to see who was there. It was the land lord. Apparently, the dog got off the chain and was running around the neighborhood "terrorizing" the other pets (he was barking outside the next door neighbor's fence where they had four dogs who were barking back). Instead of calling my brother or knocking on his door, they called his landlord.

The dog was outside the door with the landlord and the youngest child went out to pet him. Everything was fine except the landlord was upset he was called. I let the dog in the house so I could put a leash on him and walk him back outside.

I had no idea that the cat was still in the house. As we walked to the back room, the cat came trotting through. Off went the dog, the cat running through the house like a bad Steve Martin movie. Furniture flying, the dog barking like cujo, the cat screaming, spitting and scratching. Everybody was yelling including me who kept yelling at the dog to sit or heel or anything that would stop the chaos.

The dog finally cornered the cat in the back room. I ran in and caught him by the scruff of the neck and had him on the ground. The cat was standing near the pantry with it's back arched still hissing and spitting. I was reaching over to the nail to find the leash when the youngest came trotting in the room.

I said, "Don't pick up the..." and before I could get it out, she picked up the cat that proceeded to hiss, scratch and claw it's way up her head and out the door which set the dog off who tried to leap for it, barking and snarling like a possessed dog, while I still had it by the scruff of the neck (it got off the chain by some how squeezing it's big head out of the collar so there was nothing else to hold on to). He pulled me into the dryer and nearly dislocated my left arm all the while the landlord was standing outside the door and the kids started screaming again.

I finally got the leash down and made a slip noose. The dog then sat down, wagging his tail and lolling his tongue as if he had just saved the world from total destruction and was waiting for his doggie treat.

Needless to say, the landlord was not impressed. I now have to find someone to take care of the dog while I take care of my brother and his family.

Anybody need a good, temporary watch dog who doesn't have cats?