Thursday, May 15, 2008

So I'm here...

Finally. Talk about the trip from hell. I didn't leave KC until almost 6, but got to the airport at 1. That one was my fault. Everyone I know but my father works, so he was the logical choice to take me. Even though I asked him the week before and he forgot, then scheduled a doctor's appointment that he had to reschedule. So I had him drop me off early. Didn't really matter, I was ready to get away from town and people. There comes a point where you just can't say goodbye one more time.

There really isn't much to KCI. Its small and there isn't anything to do except sit and drink, or get on the Internet. So I did. I'm not knocking KCI. It serves it purpose, and the TSA agents there aren't quite the NAZI's they are in DC. And usually a few corn-fed farm girls walking around that make the scenery nicer than it might otherwise be.

So we finally take off headed for O'Hare, but when we get there, the weather is backing up planes and we end up circling. Then some chickenshit pilot decides he can't land his plane. This one really pisses me off. I'm not advocating violating safety rules, but here's my reasoning why pilots need to quit being pansies and just put the bird on the ground.

When I was in the Army in the early 90's, in eastern Turkey, we were shutting down a site. Because of the nature of things, we had to do this at night. So we flopped our schedule. Got up at 10 pm, did PT, ate breakfast, and convoyed to the airport with our load at 2 in the morning. In 0 degree weather. What makes it interesting was the fuel situation. Seems the local burn (for lack of a better word) sheep shit for heating. This puts a thick haze on the ground. So bad that planes can't see to land and the airport had no ground radar or common navigational aids. So for three nights in a row, we go out, set up, and wait for the planes to land. I was the commo guy, so we could tune into the radio frequencies and listen to the pilots. For three nights in a row, they said they couldn't land, so we packed up and went home.

Finally, on the fourth night, when the Turks told us we couldn't go for some reason, we did anyhow. That's a story for another day. So we get out, and finally get set up again. After I was escorted off the runway by an armored car for driving up and down to see if it was icy or not. Some people just don't appreciate a helping hand. So after being told I would be shot if I got closer than 100 meters to the runway, I listened to the radio conversation between the two pilots coming in that night. One was an older Colonel, and the other a young Captain. The Colonel says its not possible to land, and they'll have to abort. The Captain says he can land, and pretty much as quick as that, he's on the ground. The Colonel, of course, had no choice but to land also.

I remember they had a quiet discussion off to the side in which the Colonel seemed to be quite agitated. Of course, my going to the young Captain and telling him what a fantastic job he did and it was nice to see a pilot with balls probably didn't help the situation any. But we got loaded, they left, and pretty soon we all went home. Love those Air Force pilots. Especially the A-10 guys. If you're an A-10 pilot and you ever meet me, I'm buying the beer. You know why.

So my point is this. If a pilot in a C-130 with no navigational aids, no clearance, and doing it at night, can land his plane in the snow at an airport in eastern Turkey, I have a hard time understanding why some pilot from (fill in the blank) can't land his plane at the busiest airport in the world with every navigational aid known to mankind. It boggles the mind.


So we get diverted to Madison, Wisconsin. Insert your own joke here, because I really don't have one. We sit there, wait for who knows what, and they finally send us back to Chicago. Where we arrive 1 hour after my flight left. Air India. Who would expect them to be punctual. But credit to American Airlines, they met me at the gate with a boarding pass for the last flight to London. No upgrade, but that wasn't really an issue.

So we sit on the new plane for 2 hours after its scheduled departure (picking up all the stragglers), and leave almost 3 hours late for London. Of course, we also get into London almost 3 hours late. That curvature of the earth thing for time works really well. So I spend about 2 minutes waiting for my bags before I just give up and go report them missing. The agent checked and found them sitting in Chicago at Air India, waiting for the next flight. Of course, with almost 2 hours between my arrival in Chicago, and my departure, they didn't have time to get the bags transferred to my new flight. Again, it boggles the mind. And here's why.

I flew to Luanda, Angola. I'll pause a few seconds while you look it up on a map, because you don't know where its at. From KC to Chicago, to New York, to London, to Paris, to Luanda, and my bags arrived when I did. Luanda, Angola. And my bags are there. But Chicago to London and I have to wait 2 days for them. It boggles the mind.

But I arrived. So I went into London to pick up a bag at a friends house I had left on my previous trips, so I didn't always have to carry clothes with me. It was in the basement and they had a flood. 5 months ago. So when I picked up my bag, everything was wet, molded and mildewed. Right now I'm doing laundry (at $7.50 a load, yes its expensive over here), so I've got the time to do this. Hopefully, something is salvageable, or I've just wasted $45 doing laundry.

But here I am in Bournemouth finally, waiting on a phone call about a place to live. But no clothes means no job search yet, so I'll start that on Monday.

If my bags show up.

Maybe I should have went back to Luanda.

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