Friday morning Anne drove me to the airport. My first flight of the day, the one to LA, took off on time. We took off towards the east and ended up circling over the Park and our house. I used my iPhone to take the following picture of a portion of the Park through the aircraft’s porthole. It turned out not too bad, for an iPhone photo. You can see the Grand Basin on the left-hand side, Post-Dispatch Lake in the center and the Muny on the right-hand side of the photo. The construction around the art museum is evident. The zoo is in the picture, but is not all that discernable under all of the trees.
I flew a MD-80 on this leg. If you look in the door jam as you board the plane there is a metal plate with the aircraft’s construction date on it. This one was built in 1983. Its original owner was likely Ozark Airlines. They flew a lot of MD-80s in their day and I flew my share of them to Minneapolis. Ozark was eventually acquired by Trans-World Airlines, which in turn was acquired by American Airlines. So this old bird has been around the block a few times in its twenty-seven years of service.
There was a youth group onboard this flight, so the pilot was unusually chatty. In addition to pointing out more than the usual number of landmarks, he was also full of fun facts. One of these facts had to do with gas mileage. The airplane only gets two and a half miles per gallon. That might not sound like very good gas mileage, but when you consider that it was carrying thirty-six times the number of passengers that a five seat automobile can carry, it doesn’t sound so bad after all. I compute a car equivalent mileage of ninety miles per gallon. The newer birds are even more fuel efficient.
When we got to Arizona I saw Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon. I think that the Grand Canyon is about a mile deep. We were at 32,000 feet or about six miles up. It still looked impressive though. I’m sure it will look even more impressive standing at its rim, when later this summer the artist’s wagon train stops there on its westward journey. Anne, Dan, Annie and Sue plan on taking a break from their drive west and spend a day visiting the Grand Canyon. I’ve taken these out the window pictures while sitting in the middle seat. The guy sitting in the window seat was pretty understanding about it.
Where as the first flight of the day went like clockwork, things kind of fell apart for the second one. San Francisco was experiencing low ceiling clouds (fog). Our takeoff was delayed for three hours. American pulled the old airline trick of stretching out the delivery of the bad news. First we were boarded, then we were told that there would be a half-hour delay, which became an hour and then two and a half hours. So I sat for almost three hours on the tarmac, for a little over an hour flight.
I could have gotten off the plane, but I had a movie to watch, “Up in the Air”, with George Clooney. It was a good movie to have rented, considering my day. Clooney plays a road warrior who is questing for the ultimate in frequent flyer cards, the 10,000,000 mile club. In pursuit of this goal he has abandoned all semblance of a life. He has no friends. He is a stranger to his family and to emphasize what an empty person he has become his job is to fly around the country laying people off. In these bad economic times his business is very good.
It was a good movie and it had a Saint Louis connection. Some of the scenes were shot in Saint Louis. The shot where Clooney runs into the church was sot just around the corner from Dan’s apartment. The movie ends in the main terminal of Saint Louis’ Lambert airport. Clooney is left standing before the arrival and departure board. Just where my day started.
This post has gone on long enough. Suffice to say, I made it to my parent’s house. Adios!