Leavin' on a jet plane…

Well, I made it… Not without incident though…

Sunday morning, 3 am, my latest adventure began and it ended at about 9:15 pm, which means I spent about 18 hours either in a plane or at an airport yesterday. What fun!

I made it through security without issue and got on the first plane, from Denver to Cincinnati, as soon as they would let me: 6:50 am. As my seat was –way- in the back, between the engines where no one else likes to sit, I got settled in with my ipod shuffle and determined to sleep for the next two hours…

Nope.

About twenty minutes into the flight a loud ratcheting sound coming from the engine next to my head woke me up, followed shortly by a flight attendant stopping to listen then phoning the cockpit. Then the plane then banked hard to the left and dropped to about 10,000 feet, followed by an announcement that we were returning to Denver do to a mechanical failure.

This elicited all sorts of panicking on the plane: Kids hollering, old ladies praying… A real circus…

Joy.

The pilot limped the plane back into Denver at about 8000 feet and 300 knots, which is about 70 knots over stall on an MD-88 jet, thanks in part I’m sure to only having the left side engine running.

The plane landed way out on the end of one of the runways at DIA and was met by lots of fire trucks, emergency vehicles, and guys in aluminum coated ‘moon suits’ wielding thermal imaging gear who were looking for the fire.

As it turns out it was only a hot air line from the right side engine that is run into one of the air conditioning packs that are used to pressurize the plane. The mechanic figured he could replace the part, test the engines for about ten minutes, and get the plane back in the air…

So, at 10:15 the 10 to 12 of us remaining, who are brave enough, get back on the plane and head once again to Cincinnati.

And once the plane hits 20,000 feet the ratcheting returns followed by another hard bank to the left, another drop to 10,000 feet, and another return flight to Denver.

So now it’s a little after 11 and they’ve decided that the plane isn’t going anywhere for a while, so they book me first class on another airline which has a flight at 1:10 pm. So I slog across DIA, grab a burger at McDonalds, and board that flight…

Everything is going smoothly until, during the passenger loading where the isle is full of people trying to cram their overly large carry on into a bin while wrangling their three kids, someone in the aft end of the plane realizes that they boarded the wrong plane… This guy, two kids in tow, manages to get on a plane headed to Charlotte North Carolina when he –and his tickets- were bound for Arizona. So much for all the PITA security I guess.

So after a lot of pushing, shoving, and general anger they get him off the plane, get everyone else on the plane, and get us in the air… About 20 minutes late.

The flight is uneventful and I land in Charlotte with about 12 minutes to get to my connecting flight to Richmond, which leaves at 7:10… So I blaze through the airport and arrive at the next gate to see that the flight has been delayed till 8pm.

Sigh.

So I sit around till that plane shows up and eventually make it to Richmond at a bit after 9pm.

What a day.

Well, I’m using Zeze’s laptop to write this and we’re going to try and get rolling early so I’ll sign off here and get rolling.