Jump to content

Sign in to follow this  
Guest

Great Article from a real pilot (long)

Recommended Posts

Guest

There is a real 757 driver that posts in the PIC forum often named BBall. I just read this log entry that he posted on his website from 1997. Have a read. It's great! He sounds like a real good guy.p.s. hopefully he wont be mad that I posted this here.Little MaxI often think about the lives that I have in my hands. I guess technically that's a misnomer, my hands only control a portion of the outcome of any given flight. It's actually my brain that holds their futures hostage. Mostly I see but a fraction of the people that sit behind me as we wing our way in low Earth orbit, and that usually comes at the end of the journey when they deplane, and I wish them "goodbye". Occasionally I have an experience like today, where I get a chance to meet some of the people that put their trust in me. It makes me feel the awesome power that my life's work holds.We were at the gate in La Guardia, preparing for a short and hopefully mundane trip over to Detroit, when three very different people interrupted my little world in the cockpit. As I had finished my preflight duties (they consist of dozens of items to check, set and prepare), I found that I had little to do but wait out the departure time. From behind me in the boarding door I heard a mother saying to some little person, "see, that's were the pilots sit". As I turned to smile at the little one, I was faced with a young boy of about four or five. His smile met mine and I immediately waved him up to the cockpit. With very wide eyes he came forward and we "talked" for a few minutes. He was a truly adorable little boy. His name was Max; he stood about three feet tall, was dressed in a little Green Bay Packers jersey, had the required backpack full of little boy treasures, and was two very lucky parents pride and joy. We gave him some wings, a 757 card and conversed as only 35 years difference in ages would allow. He left and I turned around to sit, smile and think of my three wonderful children, and how very lucky I am to have them in my life.My next "interrupter" I never met; I was merely informed of his presence on my aircraft by the lead flight attendant. He boarded with two agents of the Secret Service, and was immediately rushed to his seat to be guarded and sequestered from the other passengers as much as possible. He was the Secretary of the United States Treasury, and with his hands on the purse strings of the most powerful nation in the history of the world, he was indeed a very important person. In a few hours we would taxi into the gate in Detroit and be met by what seemed to be a dozen or more very stern looking agents, both in the jetway and on the ramp. Their job of making sure this man would take his next breath (in an age where lots of people believe that assassination is a fine means to a political end), was neither to be envied nor taken lightly. He was rushed off to whatever destination his duties required.The last person that would occupy my thoughts for this day was a very ordinary lady looking to be in her mid-thirties. She was very un-special except for one thing; she was absolutely terrified to be on my aircraft. She came forward to the cockpit, and with an obvious amount of trepidation, began to explain that she suffered from rather severe bouts of claustrophobia. The look in her eyes was one of fear of two demons, the known and the unknown. The known were her all to familiar feelings of being trapped in this tube, the unknown was exactly what her reaction to those feelings would be. She questioned me about how long we would be taxiing for take-off, and if we would be long on the taxi into the gate in Detroit. Naturally, as her Captain, I'm responsible to "have all the answers", but of course, I had no idea how long we would wait at both ends of this journey. I've seen lines that stretch for twenty airplanes waiting to take-off from this field, and have sat in the "penalty box" in Detroit waiting for our gate to free up many times. With as much compassion as I could muster, I explained those two unknowns to her (being sure to leave out the part about the very real possibilities for long delays, so as to not give her a reason to "borrow" more worries than she already had). My last statement to her was that if we experienced a long delay at the other end and she was feeling the effects, to tell the lead flight attendant, and I would allow her to come forward and sit on the jumpseat in the cockpit as we awaited our gate. This of course, is quite a bending of the rules not allowing non-approved folks in the cockpit, but I didn't give a rat's #####. I was responsible for her safety, and if this would keep her from an attack, then I was prepared to do it and suffer the consequences.The flight was very routine. Quite smooth, no delays, and we were treated to a spectacular sunset (any pilot that tires of seeing them from altitude, should seek employment elsewhere). I made a nice approach and a better than average landing. We were a few minutes early, and low and behold, our gate was open (certainly because of the Secret Service). So we taxied in that direction and in no time I was setting the brakes, and asking First Officer F.B. for the Parking Checklist. With this "milk run" over, I was left to think about the people who had just given me their ultimate trust....their very lives to safeguard. In particular I found myself thinking of those three very different but important people, and the ramifications of my decisions and actions in the last few hours.How would I have changed countless histories had I not gotten them to their intended destinations this night. Would the United States economy have been effected good or bad with the loss of this man? Would his successor have steered the country and it's economic engine in the wrong direction, affecting millions of lives? Would the lady with the claustrophobia have been just another statistic in an accident report, with no mention of her fears and nightmares? With no actual experience of her condition, I could but guess how she must have felt for those couple of hours.But I guess my overpowering thoughts were of Max, with his little smiling face. He has a long life to live, little boy things to do, and when he's a man, a family to have and love. His grandchildren will one day sit on his lap and listen to his stories of these times when he was a child, and how much different they were. Had I not fulfilled my part of the bargain that night, the family genealogy that he would supply would have died with us......and who knows what ramifications that would bring. He of course, will forget his encounter with me on that November evening in New York, but I don't think that I will soon forget him. Maybe it was his innocence that made his trust in me that much more special. Of course, I feel that all of my passengers are very important people, as well I should. But maybe this night, that little boy with the big smile was just a little more important, maybe just a little more special than the rest.later,BBall

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

What a shame that passengers cant now go up front after what happened on sept 11th.European carriers allowed passengers up front and infact used to often make an announcement asking if any kids would like to go up to the front.I can remember flying over to America for a recurrent on the CE550 and spending 3 hours with the crew on a BA 777.This broke the monotony of a transatlantic.Now pull out you professional licences and you are eyed up as a potential terrorist :-(Oh well in the back of the sardine tin like the rest since sept11Peter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest B52Drivr

What a wonderful, intelligent and interesting post by BBall. Being a pilot myself, but never having flow 'passengers' in that way, it gave a whole new prespective on aviation.I was a military combat pilot, and eventually ended up flying 'bits and pieces' in large jets, here and there until I decided that aviation to me was just flying, not making a living at it. Perhaps if I had not had the combat experiences I have, I too would have gone into commercial passenger aviation -- nevertheless, BBall's look into the mindset of flying passengers and the responsibility was refreshing.Its a shame that a few demented individuals have removed the 'little boy' thrill of going up to the cockpit that Max had -- but alas, the world is never changing and we must change our lifestyles accordingly.Thank you Piper22 and BBall -- a nice Thanksgiving thought about aviation and its people.Best to all and a happy Thanksgiving,Clayton T.DopkeMajor, USAF (retired)"Drac"B52Drivr@aol.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest SoarPics

Terrific story... but I believe BBall underestimates the impact his few minutes with Max had on the boy. I had much the same experience as a boy, and I've not forgotten it in 40 years. To this day it brings a smile to my face."The greatest people are unknown... they exist as an influence."Regards,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

Soarpics,I agree. I'm 36 now, and when I was 4 years old, I flew with my parents to Reno, Nevada from Baltimore in a United DC8. The pilots let me go up to the cockpit before we left Baltimore. I remember it like it was yesterday, and I've been a complete aviation nut ever since.That kind of thing will stick with little Max forever.btw, his website is http://www.frugalsworld.com/Click on ColumnsBBall. He's got some great stories there.Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...