Wednesday, March 31, 2010

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie...

Gus gazes out at the full moon
Full moon at 7:00 am!!

Thanks for the feedback on yesterday's post...and per request I will share a couple of memories from my old flying days...

The first airline I ever flew for was a little tiny charter company based out of Tallahassee called Atlantic Gulf Airlines.  Well, technically it was Air Illinois dba (doing business as)  Atlantic Gulf.  Teeny, tiny!  I think we only had about 3 or 4 airplanes, and they were the BAC 1-11, an older plane made in the early to mid 1960's.  One of my first trips was supposed to be a quick turn between Miami and Montego Bay, Jamaica.  Shortly after departing Montego Bay, I heard a thumping sound coming from the right engine and noticed all the passengers staring out the windows.  A few minutes later a mechanic who happened to be onboard as a passenger came to the back and looked out at the engine, went up to the cockpit and conferred with the pilots, and then....we got the announcement to prepare the cabin for an emergency landing.  Oh my!!  If you've ever been to Montego Bay, you know that you are over water until you actually land - so we had to get all the passengers in life jackets and in the "brace" position.  I was so scared!  I thought I was so professional though, and did such a great job of staying focused - until after the plane landed safely and a passenger came up to me and hugged me and said that my face was absolutely WHITE.  Ha! So much for being professional!  The pilots had had an indication of a fire in the engine and used the fire extinguisher in the engine (the thumping sound)...nothing was actually wrong, just a faulty light.  But we were stuck in Montego Bay for two days.  That was when I learned to always, ALWAYS bring a change of clothes - even on a quick turn...because you just never know!

That was my first scare, and I quickly became used to aborted takeoffs and landings when Atlantic Gulf went bankrupt and I went to fly for this airline...

There she is - the old BAC 1-11
and here I am in my Florida Express uniform (don't you love that 80's hair?)

I started working for Florida Express (FLEX) in 1987, and that is where Tim and I met!  Florida Express was based in Orlando and it was a fun airline!  I met some wonderful people who are still my friends to this day, and I think it was just a really unique experience working there.  


Braniff Airlines bought Florida Express, and I then transferred to the Kansas City base...still flying the BACs though...there was one aircraft that we all called "Christine" because she was creepy...lights would go on and off by themselves, the coffeemaker in the galley would go on by itself....No one liked flying on Christine!

Tim and I used to bid to fly together during this period, so that was a lot of fun! This was a lot of up and down flying - nothing very exciting.  I had a LOT of Wichita and Omaha layovers!

Then, sadly, Braniff went bankrupt in September 1989.


In February 1990, I started flying for this company...

...which is when I realized that most planes DON'T have aborted takeoffs and landings every other leg!!  Who knew?!

Training in Houston, then based in Newark where I shared a "crash pad" with 5  other girls.  Luckily, we weren't all there at the same time.  After a few months I transferred to Denver where I was on reserve for two years...then transferred to the Cleveland base, hated the flying, and transferred back to Newark again.

Most of the flights at all of these airlines sort of blend together...I've been called a "bitch" more times than I like to recall, seen some pretty strange "carry on" items, seen some really, really large "two year olds", been bounced around in turbulence, been elbowed and tripped while walking down the aisle, had bruises all over my body - and NO idea how I got them, and I now have varicose veins thanks to all that uphill and downhill walking in heels!  I never, ever, ever want to wear panty hose again in my lifetime, and I am pretty anti-heels now too!!

All in all, I enjoyed my job though.  There were some jerks, but there were also a LOT of nice people that I got to meet.  I loved having first time or nervous flyers onboard, and having the opportunity to show them how much fun it can be.  I loved being able to help people, and I loved the people who were nice.  

One other flight which stands out was from Houston to LAX.  A young woman went into the forward lavatory about an hour or so outside of LAX 
She was in there a really  long time, but we were busy and didn't think much of it until she poked her head out of the lav door and asked me to go get her husband.  It turned out that she was having a miscarriage.  She was crying and almost hysterical, and when I looked in the lav there was blood everywhere.  It was awful.  It looked like someone had been murdered!  There were two doctors on board, and I ended up getting my suitcase down and getting the poor girl some sweatpants so she had something to wear....The EMS guys met the plane and took her off, and I never heard anything more about her.  That is the worst - when something happens on board and you never hear any follow up!!  It was the end of the day for us in LAX and we headed off for the hotel, but I always felt so bad for that cleaning crew - I wonder what they thought when they walked onto that plane and saw all that blood!

My favorite thing...was working First Class.  I enjoyed being able to take my time and give a nice service.  My least eye flights.  Ugh.  Not so much the being up all night part, but more the type of people you'd get!  Let's just say that if you are ever on a red eye and notice someone doing something under a blanket - look away!!  Pretend you don't see!!  Please, please, please DON'T call the flight attendant and point it out to him/her and ask them to go make the person or people stop!!  Blech!

And guys?  Ummm, a full airplane is probably not the best place to peruse the latest issue of Playboy.  Ya know?

OK...well, I do have more stories, but I think this post is long enough!!  I'll leave you with a couple of flight attendant tricks...on long flights when the lav gets stinky odiferous, we put coffee in there.  It absorbs odors.   Here's another one...when something spills in the galley, we get some feminine pads and mop up with that.  Hey - we don't have sponges and mops onboard, and they are VERY absorbant!!  
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