Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Trip To The Twilight Zone


I had a wonderful visit with Jen and her family in Atlanta last weekend. It was so good that I'm not going to write about it until I have time to do the trip justice. The visit was special and warrants my best effort.

We took lots of photos that I want to share with you but my camera is in my luggage which was mistakenly sent to the wrong airport. It's whereabouts are currently unknown. I'll let you know when the bag and camera are found. (These pictures were taken on Jen's phone.)

In the meantime, let me describe the outset of the voyage which was unusual. You can hear Rod Serling's voice saying, "When Ally embarked on her flight in New York, little did she know that her final destination was... the Twilight Zone."

The three major airports around New York City are crowded and difficult to get to. There's a tiny airport out east on Long Island which is uncrowded and easy. For those reason, I chose to fly out of Islip. A downside of that choice is there are only a few airlines there and only one goes to Atlanta.

That airline is cheap. I learned why. The first leg of my flight was on a plane from the past. Literally. It was 80 years old, stained and banged up. It was kept together by duct-tape. Really! The cabin was full of strips of duct-tape covering holes and dents. I didn't realized the FAA allows duct-tape to patches holes in aircraft.

Normally when you fly, you walk through a tube onto a large plane, the jet engines start, you climb smoothly up to 30,000 feet and then the unremarkable process is reversed. By contrast, my plane was tiny and powered by two propellers. No jet engines. We walked out onto the runway (not through a tube) to reach the plane and walked up its rickety stairs to get inside. I felt like a character from "Casablanca," hoping to get inside and take off before the Nazis started shooting. It felt so weird.




I noticed there were only 8 rows of seats in the plane. And only one flight attendant. The attendant was an attractive middle-aged woman who I suddenly realized has only one eye. My airline was so cheap they couldn't afford a stewardess with two eyes. My attention was transfixed on the attendant's face because her painted glass eye kept roaming around in unexpected ways, like a kitten darting after shadows.

I sat next to a propeller. I could have touched it if the window was open. When the plane started, a roar came from the propellers that was overwhelming. It was impossible to hear anyone talk. When the one-eyed stewardess came over, leaned close to me and moved her mouth, I heard nothing and tried to read her lips. There was no food or beverages served; I was relieved they didn't ask me to load luggage onto the plane or wipe snow off its wings.

Back in the 1960's, famed comedian Bob Newhart did a routine about flying on the "Grace L. Ferguson Airline and Storm Door Company." My flight to Atlanta reminded me of that. Bob spoke about arriving at Miss Ferguson's home, being told to weigh his luggage on the scale in the bedroom, and proceed to the backyard for boarding. The pilot came out of a bedroom holding his head, muttering "Have you ever had one of those hangovers that lingers for days?!"

The happy news is I survived. We flew at 1,000 feet the whole way because the plane couldn't go any higher. The whole experience was surreal and as I stepped off I thought I was entering the Twilight Zone.

Have you been on any memorable flights?


25 comments:

  1. Oh my!!!!!! That sounds hilarioous!!!! My friend said something similar about some airline in Asia she went on too!x

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  2. I am so glad you had a fun time in Atlanta! I am even happier to hear that you got there safely. That plane sounds like my worst nightmare. So excited to hear more about your visit!

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  3. It sounds like a very interesting trip and I cant wait to hear about the rest of it.

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  4. I laughed out loud at your description of the flight attendant. 1000 feet? Wow! I'm glad you made it safely and can't wait to hear all about your adventures!

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  5. So I'm relieved that the title of this post refers only to the flight here and not your perspective of our lives or our home!! haha

    "Like a kitten darting after shadows" has got to be your funniest simile to date.

    I hope they find your luggage soon. What a nightmare, especially after all the crap the airline already put you through. And all the best pictures are on your camera!!! The ones on my phone just aren't great resolution like yours (no reflection on the subject).

    It still feels weird that you're gone!

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    1. It does. Your home felt like my homne.

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  6. Oh my! What an adventure and a great story! I'm glad to hear you had fun and made it back intact, considering.

    My husband has a few really great plane stories that were very scary. Down in Panama with planes that were super old.

    I also went on a plane in Costa Rica that was so small sitting in the back I could stretch out my arm and touch the pilot. Not good. Really not good. That plane was so old and crappy and was all over the place, like a roller coaster. It was everything I could do not to lose my lunch.

    Can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip! I hope you get your suitcase back. We've had ours lost twice but recovered them both times.

    bisous
    Suzanne
    http://www.suzannecarillo.com

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  7. So glad you made it after such a weird flight ! I am a bit scared to fly, I do it but I always feel so happy when the plane lands, LOL...so your story really touched me !!! Good it seems you had a great time with your friend tho. Hope you get your luggage safe and sound, too ! Kisses

    Fashion and Cookies

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  8. Ha! That sounds like a nightmare, but one of those great stories afterwards. I'm so excited to hear about your visit!

    I was on a plane in Hawaii in the 70s (I was about 9) that was stuck on the tarmac because a drunk man had commandeered a luggage cart and was driving it all over the runway/gate area. I vividly remember watching it out the plane window.

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  9. My biggest wish is my first plane flight later this month is that it is nothing like that!! Omg how scary!

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  10. Great writing. I suspect the pilot used to be a bush pilot and if the wing came off he'd hop out and tape it back on in mid-flight. Those guys are wild men. I'm glad you made it safely.

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  11. Ha ha this story made me smile (apart from the lost luggage bit, that is really rubbish!) - sounds like a rather worrying adventure in the skies!

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  12. I've flown some tiny planes before (including some where you board from steps on the tarmac, as you described), but nothing THAT tiny! Hope your luggage--and most importantly, your camera!!--is found soon!

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  13. What an adventure !
    I flew in something similar called "air taxi". The flight was 30 minutes, but it felt like it was forever. I could touch the pilot on the shoulder if I wanted, I could see the ocean between the cracks on the floor. When I was asked to wear a seat belt I laughed and said "Why ? so they'll find me strapped to something..?

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  14. oh my...glad you survived. i've been on not old, but small planes that had cheaper fares, and it is scary! i'm really surprised, though, about the duct tape. hope you find your luggage!

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  15. Ally, I'm green with envy: it sounds like you flew on a DC-3! Never mind the duct tape and the stains, you got a good close look at the best-engineered commercial aircraft ever made. If so, be reassured that she and her many sisters are still flying cargo and passengers all over the world, especially where the air strips are short and the winds are strong. Makes no matter to a DC-3, she's got the power and the stamina to go aloft and roar through her world at a steady 200 mph, and altitudes so low pressurization is unneeded. Never, ever, in the history of aviation has a DC-3 crashed from structural failure -- and she was built to be flown and maintained by real human beings, flaws and all. She's a very forgiving lady.

    More than 30 years ago I got to sit in the co-pilot seat of a Lear jet as part of a rescue mission to salvage a DC-3 abandoned by drug runners at a strip outside Marietta GA. Now I'm wondering -- and hoping! -- that this was the old lady saved. And here's a thought: that one-eyed flight attendant is probably a co-owner not only of the plane but of the little business operation itself.

    Oh, lucky, lucky you, Ally! You've heard the Whirlwind engines sing!

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    1. What fascinating information, Beth. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. That's awesome, Ally! I think that's often one of the hallmarks of an amazing trip. You want to process it properly, reliving each delightful memory while it's still fresh as new fallen snow, before properly setting them down on (digital) paper for the sake of sharing and long term recollection alike. I eagerly look forward to hearing more about this great get-together when you do.

    ♥ Jessica

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  17. The start of your trip ... Fascinating ... and thankfully continued throughout.

    I am sitting here giggling at the way you tell stories ... the one-eyed attendant with the roaming eye!!! (I worked with a young guy years ago who also had a false eye and liked to wear one of his eyes with the Union Jack pattern and he also made it wander around) ... like a kitten chasing after shadows ... lip reading ... OMGoodness!!!!!

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  18. OMG, I took a short hopper while I was going to school in Costa Rica in an old WWII plane. We were flying through a storm and got hit by lightening several times. The turbulence was so bad, I hit my head on the ceiling! No seatbelts. I think the "captain" was drunk. We called him Captain Riunite. But nothing beats the one-eyed stewardess!!!

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  19. You are a brave woman. I may have gotten right off of that plane!

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  20. I don't know if I could have gotten on that plane...you are very brave!

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  21. Aw, I bet that flight attendant is good at her job! Having a visible disability can make public customer-service jobs suck extra hard.

    I flew on a small plane once to visit my dad in Mexico--not as small as your (non-island) island-hopper but it felt even smaller because there were only four or five other passengers. Losing your luggage is bogus (I'm behind on your blog so I'm hoping it's caught up to you by now), but I'm really glad you were able to make the trip.

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    1. Yep, I've gotten the bag. Thanks for the comment.

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