Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Laptop Oblivion

I've been there.
No, not on a flight deck working on my laptop while 149 souls are cluelessly confident that I am flying the airplane. But I've experienced what total absorption in a computer screen can do.
It can cause a flood in your kitchen, that spreads down the hall to your bedroom and renders kitchen and bathroom cabinets waterlogged and hazardous. Admittedly not as serious as forgetting to land an Airbus 320, but serious, nonetheless. And very expensive. And really embarrassing.
One morning last spring I was trying to do too many things at once. I had a busy day planned. I wanted to clean up a few dishes in the kitchen before moving on to other things. I started filling the sink with water. "I'll just quick check my e-mail while the sink is filling," I said to myself. One thing led to another.
45 minutes later a background noise that sounded like a waterfall nudged my consciousness. It WAS a waterfall. As I ran to the kitchen, my shoes made squishy sounds in the hall carpet. Rounding the corner, I witnessed my dishwater cascading down the cabinet to the floor, as pretty and as destructive as you please.
Several days of industrial fans running 24/7 followed. I almost checked into a hotel. Blessedly, the fans were finally silenced by workers who determined they could now proceed putting me back together. Three large bookcases had to be emptied. Furniture moved. Cabinets cleaned out. Did I mention that I live in a 1200 sq. ft. townhouse? Every dry surface was covered with stuff. And I lost all my cookbooks!
Several weeks later, the $7,000 ordeal was over. The condominium association insurance has a $10,000 deductible per incident. Thankfully, by the grace of God, I had purchased "gap" insurance so my personal exposure was only a $500 deductible. However, the insurance company was not pleased that I had done such a stupid thing (my words, not theirs) and sent me a letter saying if I had any more claims they would "review" my coverage and possibly terminate it. You'd think I was a frequent claimant, to use airline parlance. This was the first and only insurance claim I have ever had!
So you see I can relate to the conundrum these two hapless Northwest pilots find themselves in. My consequences pale in comparison to theirs. But I can see how it happened.
I've been there.
Just a minute . . . I've got to go check on a noise.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

An Airline by any other name . . .

I wasn't going to comment on the most viral story since last week's home-made weather balloon, and yet I find myself propelled (no pun intended) to my computer to add just one more comment to the noise.

Isn't it interesting, that in virtually every account, the errant pilots are identified as Northwest Pilots, and the flight that overshot the Twin Cities as Northwest Flight 188?
It is clear that Delta, the biggest airline in the world, who became that big by gobbling up Northwest, wants no part of this.
Delta, Northwest's owner, the same airline that can't wait to erase every last vestige of Northwest identity from the public view, is not identified until the ninth paragraph of the story, if at all.
I just find that interesting.
P.S. I guess this event proves I really do live in "flyoverland" after all. Sorry, this time the pun is intended.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"What are you running, an airline or a whorehouse?"

United Airlines

The title of this blog is what Representative Martha Griffiths said in a 1964 Congressional hearing, after airline executives testified that it was imperative for businessmen that attractive women light their cigars and fix drinks.
I came across this gem in Amy Bloom's review of Gail Collins' new book "When Everything Changed," in The New York Times this week.
In it she chronicles American women's social and political history, and uses the experience of flight attendants to illustrate one of the ways our world has changed since then. When the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was established, Collins tells us, its first complainants were stewardesses, and airline executives found themselves in Congressional hearings.
Sadly, it was too late for Lady Skywriter, who had to "retire" four years earlier in 1960 because she got married. Had she not gotten married, she could have kept her job until her 32nd birthday, when she would have had to "resign" due to old age. But by then the rules would have changed and who knows? She might still be flying the Orient today, alongside Bob Reardon, who is still flying for NWA, ... er Delta, at 85 years of age.
Bob Reardon and Bonnie Vork in the galley of a Boeing Stratocruiser in 1957

Fujiyma rays & Oshibori Towels, recalling a time when passenger flight was an adventure and the Boeing Stratocruiser ruled the skies by Anne Billingsley Kerr now available on Amazon.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Airport" Filming at MSP in 1969 turned many NWA employees into movie "extras!"

This week the NWA History Centre in Minneapolis was host to a private screening of the movie "Airport," filmed in 1969 and released in 1970-1971. The audience included several retired Northwest Airlines employees who performed as "extras" or were present during filming at MSP airport, as well as history buffs and guests. Among the guests was Marianne Blomquist, shown here behind the skycap (I remember him, too!). Marianne was Donald Nyrop's (former NWA C.E.O) secretary at the time of her movie performance.
The scene of the private screening on Thursday, October 8, 2009 was the Edina Theater in the Twin Cities. The event also marked the 7th anniversary of the NWA History Centre, whose volunteers were honored guests. Before the movie began, all attendees were fortified with complimentary popcorn and sodas and treated to Elbert "Ebb" Sutliff's anecdotes from that long-ago day, including when he had to admonish George Kennedy, who played the "hero" maintenance chief Joe Patroni, for waving his lighted cigar just below the fuel vent of a 707.
It was great to see this old movie again on a big screen with "Dolby Surround Sound," forty years after it was filmed. All agreed that in addition to its historical significance, it was a really good movie, loaded with stars: The afore-mentioned George Kennedy, plus Dean Martin, Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, Maureen Stapleton, Van Heflin and the indomitable Helen Hayes as Mrs. Ada Quonsett, the little old lady stowaway.
To those of us in attendance though, the "real" stars were the local people and familiar scenes in and around MSP airport.