Monday, October 17, 2005
What on earth possessed Athenian airport interior designers to hang images of Amelia Earhart and failed early designs for personal flight systems in their cafeteria I'll never know. My lovely wife, E, who is already an anxious flyer, did not need the cold comfort of seeing a photograph of another woman who flew AND NEVER SAW HER FAMILY AGAIN. And let's face it: the pilots of those early flying machines likely had their fair share neighbours and friends saying, "Are you fucking nuts? You're going to jump off Butler's Hill with that on your back?"; the concepts inspire even less confidence today than they did 100 years ago.
Athens International Airport should have just hung a photo of the Hindenburg and been done with it.
My lovely wife also has the unsettling habit of loudly discussing the safety records of airlines once we've boarded. She became certain, once on board our 737 Agean Airlines flight to Santorini, that Agean had operated the plane that recently crashed outside Athens. She was equally suspicious of our Olympic Airlines flight to Rhodes; a suspicion which became more acute once we had started across the tarmac--on foot--and she realised that she would be taking her first propeller plane ride. Thankfully, all the souvlaki stayed where it belonged: hammering away on her colon.
More to follow.
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You're bringing back great memories of my trip to Santorini in '89. It wasn't the walking across the tarmac -- standard in warm countries now and what we used to do everywhere when I was a kid -- that fazed me, it was looking around the interior of the plane, convinced it was one I flew on in the late 60s! I hadn't seen open overhead bins in 20 years.
My best prop plane story is looking fixedly out the window at the very still fourth prop as the pilot took off at City Centre airport! That was fun!!!
Nervous flyer here too. I empathise. No real stories to speak of but my worst flight ever was on a Dash 8 twinprop from Lexington KY to Toronto. The one stewardess bounced around the cabin like a Yahtzee die in a cup.
My best Prop plane story was actually my first aeroplane ride ever.
I was 24 years old.
(I didn't ride a roller coaster until last year--I'm a big fraidy cat)
It was a tough initiation.
Something about getting a direct flight from Manchester, NH to Toronto should have tipped me off; or that there was only three people at the gate (including the person taking tickets); or that we had to truck across the tarmac to a sad little 18 seater with propellers--a plane type that I had been told to avoid by everyone who knew I was a flying virgin.
The pilot greeted me a the bottom of the stairs, and when I asked if I could come up to the cockpit for a look (hey--I'd never flown!) he gave me an uncertain look, then said:
P- "Sure! But, hey, you picked a hell of a day to start flying. It's going to get pretty rough out there."
All I could think about was dying. All I'm sure he could think about was flying with the smell of a re-warmed MacDonald's Egg McMuffin filling the air.
The pilots had no door--not even a damn curtain--to shield them from view; there was no washroom; and I could only stand upright in the centre of the aisle: it was going to be a long flight.
Long story short, we hit so much turbulence that I swear I could see dust clouds floating up from the carpet.
I made it in one piece, and now I think I can handle any flying experience.
I had a particularly harrowing experience in a prop going over the pacific between islands. I looked over at the Stewardess who had her head in her hands and I knew it was bad. Ever since I spend the entire flight listening for the smallest noises that I take as certain signs we are going down.
Mincemeat's comment reminded me of a friend's experience travelling from London to Greece:
Imagine a packed midsized plane. The counter staff oversold the flight and jammed my friend in an empty cabin crew seat. On take off something quite loud BANGED off the undercarriage, which prompted the crew to look to my friend in a blind panic and ask "What the hell was that?"
My friend, a nervous flyer too, shouted, "I have no fucking clue!"
The counter staff told the crew that he was a maintenenace staff so they could sell the seat, nearly causing mass hysteria within the cabin.
That does sound like poor planning, doesn't it?
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