The Miracle of Human Flight. (in the digital age)

flight

I went on a business trip.

Yep. Like a big girl.

I know you’re not surprised, since I’ve blogged about my flying adventures before.

This time was different though.  I didn’t make a lobster roll spread on my way to Los Angeles by taking up a full row and laying out my condiments (shamelesssss) and I didn’t creatively procure free alcohol (it was weird).

I participated in the miracle of human flight in a different way and I got pretty excited.

Are you guys familiar with Louis C. K.?  I apologize if this question is akin to me asking if you’ve heard of Miley Cyrus. DUH. (Unfortunately) (although that “We Can’t Stop” song – pretty catchy).

Anyway. Louis C. K. Comedian. Hilarious. Sometimes takes it too far. But mostly dead on funny.

A few years ago he was on Conan’s show and ranted for a fantastic bit that has come to be known as “everything is amazing and no one is happy,” during which he recounts how freaking awesome it is – this invention of human flight (among other things) (and rants on humans in general).

(if you haven’t seen it, then you HAVE TO watch this clip. It’s the funniest shit ever. Click here. Or here. Or HERE.)

That’s how I felt.

Not only was it a gorgeous day for flying.

BUT I used the internet today. On board.

Not only was I 38,000 feet in the air, but I could TELL MY FRIENDS ABOUT IT.

In real time.

So I did.

I emailed my brother, my aunt, my boyfriend, my cousin, 10 of my co-workers, my grandma, several managers, my dad, and my hair stylist (ok my former hair stylist).

I realize in-flight wifi isn’t new. But it actually worked this time. And I actually felt like using it instead of taking some me time/had to dial-in (something about work).

I was totally going weeeeeeeee. (My row companion LOVED it. JK. But I did have an interesting convo with him that I’ll save for my next post. YUP. It’s a two-parter.)

Anyways, IT WAS AWESOME!

Ramps, Propellers and Runways

pink plane

Today I faced a fear head on.  More or less.

I was headed back to the windy city after some time in the “warmth” of the Florida sun.

I booked a flight through a major US carrier (yes I avoid Aeroflot on US soil also).  What I didn’t know was that United Airlines partners with a company that owns small propeller planes (most of which I suspect belong to Barbie and Ken).

There were a few clues I should have picked up on:

  • No ramp was attached
  • There were stairs leading to the runway
  • “All zones” checked in at the same time (all 10 of us)

If you’re standing where it seems like you’re not supposed to be and you’re flying a domestic commercial flight (ie the runway), one of two things is happening: a) you’re the President and/or wealthy enough to board a private plane or b) you’re flying a small regional jet to the destination of your choice while getting too close for comfort with strangers.

The answer wasn’t a.

I made it out to the runway, walked my suitcase down 15 steps and was met with the sight of a neon pink and silver propeller plane.

My.

Worst.

Nightmare.

I’m not sure why I find smaller planes to be scarier than the big boeings but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that a) you feel every little bump and b) the pilots on these small regional gems belonging to small regional companies partnering with large well-known airlines are usually… 17.

I dropped off my bag by the plane as instructed, climbed the small steps, peered into the cockpit to find our teen pilot and his buddy and immediately asked the flight attendant if it was “going to be OK.”

I walked to the back of the plane (all 10 rows of it), where I found my companion for the ride.  A hyper and abnormally loud 3 year old.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Lucky for me, his dad informed me that he likes to kick seats and apologized in advance.

I calmly smiled as I imagined my 3 year old buddy kicking my seat while both of us threw tantrums mid-air.  Him because he wanted a “kooooookie.”  Me because I had pre-emptively decided “it” was over.

I sat back to enjoy the vibrations of my new massage chair, called every member of my family to tell them I love them and stared out the window at Barbie’s pink plane in anticipation of take-off.

Shockingly, it was a smooth ride.

The propellers rotated the entire time and since I heard nothing from the “pilots” up front, I assume they were busy doing their job.

Aside from the fact that I had no cash on me (the ONE time I needed a bloody mary) and Barbie Airlines did not accept credit cards and the kids operating the plane taxied as if we were in a road race after landing… the trip was smooth.

After landing, the 3 year old finally got a koooookie and I felt more comfortable with toy planes.

The feeling of a smooth landing was Awesome.

Miniature Cameras, Bugging Devices and False Bottoms

On Day 40, one of my friends suggested we head to the theater district and skip Broadway in favor of a Spy Exhibit.

SPY: THE EXHIBIT, was an interesting way to start the evening.

I’m not sure what I expected but everything you might imagine such an exhibit to have, was included in this extravaganza:

  • Dead mice used to stash secret documents during the cold war?  Check.
  • Aircraft designed to fly 3 times the speed of sound and pick up foreign secrets?  Check.
  • Fake bricks known as “dead drops” with secret containers for money/messages?  Check.
  • Laser room where one embarrasses oneself by fiercely dodging strobes of light while random passerby’s watch outside on screen?  Check. (Uncharacteristically, I skipped this activity… but LOVED watching).
  • Remote controlled catfish AND dragonfly developed to “explore the use of underwater and aerial vehicles?”… CHECK.
  • Voice recording station where one records oneself and changes voice intonations (and broadcasts comments about said friend)?  Check.

One of the coolest parts of the exhibit was the history lesson we received.

I’m no history buff! But even I shut up and paid attention once we entered “The Vault” with relics from WWII, the Cold War and the Russian Revolution.  All of these hit close to home and I was mesmerized by two displays in particular:

  • A limited edition copy of Dr. Zhivago captured by the CIA and originally banned by Soviet Union Officials (author was given the Nobel Prize but was forced to decline it by the Soviet Government)
  •  A letter written in May of 1945 by Richard Helms – a commanding officer in USA’s Office of Strategic Services – on Adolf Hitler’s stationary to his young son (age 3), explaining the significance of the victory.

Chilling.

Awesome.

Turning It Around

reflection on a plane

On Day 37, everything that could have gone wrong… went wrong.

In preparing for this week’s work trip, I planned to wake up circa 4am (a miracle for anyone who knows me) and drive to the airport to take an early flight, putting me at a client meeting bright and early.

Easy!

Not quite.  The 2 hour drive turned into 4.  I missed the only non-stop flight of the day.  I couldn’t understand my friend, the GPS (which turn lady?!?!).  I almost missed the 2nd flight.  I just about peed my pants flying through a storm (apparently this is of NO concern to the pilots).

By the time we landed in random pit stop (ie layover point), I was ready to call it a day and head back to NYC.

I decided to regroup.  I sat myself down, ate a couple bags of JetBlue (Blue) potato chips (I’m a fan) and had a double vodka (naturally).

Things turned up from there:

  • Through methods of friendly waves and overstepping boundaries, I befriended the pilots of my next flight.  They assured me that we would not intentionally fly directly into hurricane Isaac’s path (phew).
  • I met the crew of the plane and prepped them for my on-board bloody-mary intake.  (I even scored a free one!)
  • I read my book of the moment: “White Girl Problems” – Babe Walker.  (Don’t judge, just read)
  • I enjoyed team bonding by the water (the upside of traveling for work)
  • I ended the evening with a bath (my hotel go-to)

About turning it around:

Not easy.  But when achieved: Awesome.