Sometimes we forget just how lucky we are to own an airplane. Having sold my Mustang a few months ago, I now remember. As you may recall, I have access to Larry King’s M2, but he took my airplane (okay, his airplane) on a round-the-world journey several months ago, and I am relegated to airline travel.
My, how I miss my airplane!
While the airlines do a remarkable job of safely moving millions of folks around the country, it can be a grueling experience. Here’s a look at several recent flights.
April. I depart for Wichita on American. We arrive at an empty Wichita ramp at 8 p.m. After pulling up to the gate, the jet bridge won’t move. Thirty minutes later, the crew decides to move the airplane to the next empty gate. However, there is no one available to drive the tug. More delay, then we finally “arrive.”
A few days later on the return, the plane is three hours late departing. A nine-year-old girl sitting behind me tries to throw up five times. And the lady sitting beside me coughs the entire trip.
I got free water and what appeared to be a cracker.
In June, I set my personal record for the most number of mechanized modes of transportation to reach my destination: eleven. I had been invited to speak at the Citation Jet Pilots’ regional meeting in Mackinaw Island, Michigan. A simple destination if you have your own airplane, but not so easy if you don’t.
- A cab from home to DFW.
- An elevator up to security.
- A Delta Airbus to Detroit. The new Airbus decided it would not accept fuel from the hose, causing a 40-minute departure delay. I now know when you see three guys wearing yellow vests in the cockpit, it is not going to go well.
- A moving sidewalk in Detroit to find the next gate.
- A tram to connect to the flight which, I missed due to the delay in Dallas.
- An escalator to take me to the rental car line for “plan B.”
- A bus to take me to the remote rental car lot.
- A Hertz rental car which I drove for 5 hours to Pellston, Michigan because I missed the Delta connection.
- Another cab from the Pellston airport to the Mackinaw ferry dock.
- A boat from Mackinaw to Mackinaw Island.
- A horse-drawn carriage from the island dock to the hotel (no motorized vehicles allowed on the island.)
The trip from my house in Dallas to the hotel in Mackinaw took 12 hours and 45 minutes. Some of the CJP members flew directly to the island’s 3,500-foot strip less than a mile from the hotel. They own their own airplanes!
Fearing that I might again miss the connection on the return to Dallas, I literally ran with luggage in tow almost a mile to the connecting terminal in Detroit. I made it with 6 minutes to spare, which allowed me time to dry off from the sweat-soaked sprint.
On the return to Dallas, I got to rub elbows with the beefy guy sitting next to me. Crawling over him on the way to the men’s room as he slept, I tripped on his leg and went flying into the aisle. We are not friends anymore.
I think I am going to buy another airplane.